Axonal conduction properties of antidromically identified neurons in rat barrel cortex
Somatosensory & motor research
Physiological studies of the rodent somatosensory cortex have consistently described considerable heterogeneity in receptive field properties of neurons outside of layer IV, particularly those in layers V and VI. One such approach for distinguishing among different local circuits in these layers may be to identify the projection target of neurons whose axon collaterals contribute to the local network. In vivo, this can be accomplished using antidromic stimulation methods. Using this approach,
... e axonal conduction properties of cortical efferent neurons are described. Four projection sites were activated using electrical stimulation: (1) vibrissal motor cortex, (2) ventrobasal thalamus (VB), (3) posteromedial thalamic nucleus (POm), and (4) cerebral peduncle. Extracellular recordings were obtained from a total of 169 units in 21 animals. Results demonstrate a close correspondence between the laminar location of the antidromically identified neurons and their anatomically known layer of origin. Axonal properties were most distinct for corticofugal axons projecting through the crus cerebri. Corticothalamic axons projecting to either VB or POm were more similar to each other in terms of laminar location and conduction properties, but could be distinguished using focal electrical stimulation. It is concluded that, once stimulation parameters are adjusted for the small volume of the rat brain, the use of antidromic techniques may be an effective strategy to differentiate among projection neurons comprising different local circuits in supra-and infragranular circuits.