Isodirectional tuning of adjacent interneurons and pyramidal cells during working memory: evidence for microcolumnar organization in PFC

J Neurophysiol. 1999 Apr;81(4):1903-16. doi: 10.1152/jn.1999.81.4.1903.


Studies on the cellular mechanisms of working memory demonstrated that neurons in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dPFC) exhibit directionally tuned activity during an oculomotor delayed response. To determine the particular contributions of pyramidal cells and interneurons to spatial tuning in dPFC, we examined both individually and in pairs the tuning properties of regular-spiking (RS) and fast-spiking (FS) units that represent putative pyramidal cells and interneurons, respectively. Our main finding is that FS units possess spatially tuned sensory, motor, and delay activity (i. e., "memory fields") similar to those found in RS units. Furthermore, when recorded simultaneously at the same site, the majority of neighboring neurons, whether FS or RS, displayed isodirectional tuning, i.e., they shared very similar tuning angles for the sensory and delay phases of the task. As the trial entered the response phase of the task, many FS units shifted their direction of tuning and became cross-directional to adjacent RS units by the end of the trial. These results establish that a large part of inhibition in prefrontal cortex is spatially oriented rather than being untuned and simply regulating the threshold response of pyramidal cell output. Moreover, the isodirectional tuning between adjacent neurons supports a functional microcolumnar organization in dPFC for spatial memory fields similar to that found in other areas of cortex for sensory receptive fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Oculomotor Nerve / cytology
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology