To study the various types of neurons in layer IIa in the piriform cortex (PC) and the spatial distribution of their axons, axon collaterals of three neurons in layer IIa were labeled and quantitatively analyzed by intracellular injection of biocytin in the guinea pig. Individual neurons have highly distributed axon collaterals, which display a little tendency toward patchy concentrations inside as well as outside the PC. One semilunar cell in the posterior PC had 54-mm-long axon collaterals and 4,200 boutons, out of which 2,100 (49% of the total number of boutons) were distributed in the PC. One semilunar-pyramidal transitional cell in the posterior PC had 256-mm-long axon collaterals and 23,000 boutons, out of which 16,100 (70% of the total number of boutons) and 4,000 (18% of the total number of boutons) were respectively distributed in all layers and in layer Ia of the PC. One multipolar cell in the posterior PC had 188-mm-long axon collaterals and 18,000 boutons, out of which 13,700 (78% of the total number of boutons) were distributed in the PC. Our results revealed that the connection patterns of individual cells in layer IIa have most of the features required for an associative neural network, which may function as a content-addressable memory for the association of odor stimuli.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.