An intracellular analysis of geniculo‐cortical connectivity in area 17 of the cat.

D. Ferster*, S. Lindström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


The latencies of excitatory and inhibitory post‐synaptic potentials (e.p.s.p.s and i.p.s.p.s) evoked by electrical stimulation of afferents from the lateral geniculate nucleus were recorded in neurones of area 17 of the cat visual cortex. After application of an extrapolation procedure to compensate for the conduction time of the afferent axons, a histogram of latencies formed three distinct peaks. Potentials in each of these were interpreted as being mediated by mono‐, di‐ and trisynaptic pathways. Characteristic laminar differences in the extracellular field potentials evoked from the lateral geniculate nucleus (l.g.n.) and in the antidromic activation of neurones from the l.g.n. and superior colliculus were used to determine the laminar position of recorded neurones. It was found that within a given layer, all cells maintained similar connexions with relay cells in the l.g.n. Cells in layers 3, 4, upper 5 and 6 were monosynaptically excited by geniculate afferents, while cells in layers 2 and lower 5 received only indirect excitation via other cortical neurones. Layer 3 cells were unique in receiving a prominent disynaptic e.p.s.p. in addition to the direct excitation from the l.g.n. Late, trisynaptic e.p.s.p. components were seen in many layer 5 and 6 cells. The orderly laminar arrangement of the connexions had the consequence that identified cortico‐geniculate neurones were monosynaptically excited and cortico‐collicular neurones di‐ and trisynaptically excited by geniculate afferents. Cortico‐cortical neurones in layers 2 and 3 received di‐ or mono‐ plus disynaptic excitation, depending on laminar position. Post‐synaptic inhibitory potentials were evoked in all impaled cells, following stimulation of the geniculo‐cortical pathway. Except for a few layer 2 cells, this inhibition was mediated through disynaptic pathways of the feed‐forward type. There was a good positive correlation between conduction times for monosynaptic e.p.s.p.s and disynaptic i.p.s.p.s in the same cells, suggesting that cortical neurones receive excitation and inhibition from the same type of geniculate afferents. The stimulating electrodes activated not only geniculo‐cortical afferents, but antidromically activated cortical efferent neurones from their extracortical axons. These neurones possess intracortical collaterals, and care must be taken to distinguish the resulting potentials from those mediated by orthodromic activation of geniculate afferents. In doing so, evidence was obtained for excitatory connexions from layers 2 and 3 to layer 5, from layer 5 to layer 6, and from layer 6 to layer 4. Typical recurrent inhibition was not observed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-215
Number of pages35
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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