Morphological and electrophysiological properties of principal neurons in the rat lateral amygdala in vitro

J Neurophysiol. 2001 Feb;85(2):714-23. doi: 10.1152/jn.2001.85.2.714.


In this study, we characterize the electrophysiological and morphological properties of spiny principal neurons in the rat lateral amygdala using whole cell recordings in acute brain slices. These neurons exhibited a range of firing properties in response to prolonged current injection. Responses varied from cells that showed full spike frequency adaptation, spiking three to five times, to those that showed no adaptation. The differences in firing patterns were largely explained by the amplitude of the afterhyperpolarization (AHP) that followed spike trains. Cells that showed full spike frequency adaptation had large amplitude slow AHPs, whereas cells that discharged tonically had slow AHPs of much smaller amplitude. During spike trains, all cells showed a similar broadening of their action potentials. Biocytin-filled neurons showed a range of pyramidal-like morphologies, differed in dendritic complexity, had spiny dendrites, and differed in the degree to which they clearly exhibited apical versus basal dendrites. Quantitative analysis revealed no association between cell morphology and firing properties. We conclude that the discharge properties of neurons in the lateral nucleus, in response to somatic current injections, are determined by the differential distribution of ionic conductances rather than through mechanisms that rely on cell morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar