A laminar analysis of the number of neurons, glia, and synapses in the adult cortex (area 17) of adult macaque monkeys

J Comp Neurol. 1982 Sep 20;210(3):278-90. doi: 10.1002/cne.902100307.


The number of neurons, glia, and synapses in the visual cortex of adult macaque monkeys has been estimated by stereological methods. The data is presented separately for 13 sublaminae. For the total cortical thickness, the average numerical density of neurons is approximately 120,000 per mm3 of tissue. This density increases and decreases in the different sublaminae in the direction that one would expect from the classical descriptions of Nissl-stained material (e.g., 137,000/mm3 in IVC alpha; 211,000/mm3 in IVC beta). There are about 200,000 neurons under 1 mm2 or cortical surface: 28% are in layers I-III, 45% are in layer IV, and 27% are in layers V and VI. The total number in area 17 of one hemisphere is close to 160,000,000. For the total cortical thickness the numerical density of synapses is 276,000,000 per mm3 of tissue. Laminae with higher neuronal densities tend to have higher synaptic densities but the correlation is not perfectly concordant. Moreover, the changes in synaptic densities are not as great as those in neuronal densities so that laminae with higher neuronal densities have a lower synapse to neuron ratio and laminae with lower neuronal densities have a higher synapse to neuron ratio. For the total cortical thickness this ratio is 2,300 synapses per neuron (1,400 in layer IVC beta and 2,800 in layers II and III). There are 478 million synapses under 1 mm2 cortical surface: 40% are in layers I-III, 35% are in layer IV, and 25% are in layers V and VI. The numerical densities of astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microcytes are 38,000, 17,000, and 4,000 per mm3, respectively. The overall glia/neuron ratio is 0.49.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology