Passive Cable Properties and Morphological Correlates of Neurones in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus of the Cat

J Physiol. 1987 Feb;383:653-92. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1987.sp016435.


1. We used an in vivo preparation of the cat to study the passive cable properties of sixteen X and twelve Y cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus. Cells were modelled as equivalent cylinders according to Rall's formulations (Rall, 1959a, 1969, 1977). We injected intracellular current pulses into these geniculate neurones, and we analysed the resulting voltage transients to obtain the cable parameters of these cells. In addition, fifty-four physiologically characterized neurones were labelled with horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and analysed morphologically. 2. Analysis of HRP-labelled geniculate neurones showed that the dendritic branching pattern of these cells adheres closely to the 3/2 power rule. That is, at each branch point, the diameter of the parent branch raised to the 3/2 power equals the sum of the diameters of the daughter dendrites after each is raised to the 3/2 power. Furthermore, preliminary data indicate that the dendritic terminations emanating from each primary dendrite occur at the same electrotonic distance from the soma. These observations suggest that both X and Y cells meet the geometric constraints necessary for reduction of their dendritic arbors into equivalent cylinders. 3. We found a strong linear relationship between the diameter of each primary dendrite and the membrane surface area of the arbor emanating from it. We used this relationship to derive an algorithm for determining the total somatic and dendritic membrane surface area of an X and Y cell simply from knowledge of the diameters of its soma and primary dendrites. 4. Both geniculate X and Y cells display current-voltage relationships that were linear within +/- 20 mV of the resting membrane potential. This meant that we could easily remain within the linear voltage range during the voltage transient analyses. 5. X and Y cells clearly differ in terms of many of their electrical properties, including input resistance, membrane time constant and electrotonic length. The difference in input resistance between X and Y cells cannot be attributed solely to the smaller average size of X cells, but it also reflects a higher specific membrane resistance (Rm) of the X cells. Furthermore, X cells exhibit electrotonic lengths slightly larger than those of Y cells, but both neuronal types display electrotonic lengths of roughly 1. This indicates that even the most distally located innervation to these cells should have considerable influence on their somatic and axonal responses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure