Spontaneous firing patterns and axonal projections of single corticostriatal neurons in the rat medial agranular cortex

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Jan;71(1):17-32. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.71.1.17.


1. Spontaneous fluctuations of membrane potential, patterns of spontaneous firing, dendritic branching patterns, and intracortical and striatal axonal arborizations were compared for two types of corticostriatal neurons in the medial agranular cortex of urethan-anesthetized rats: 1) pyramidal tract (PT) cells identified by antidromic activation from the medullary pyramid and 2) crossed corticostriatal (CST) neurons identified by antidromic activation from the contralateral neostriatum. The ipsilateral corticostriatal projections of intracellularly stained PT neurons as well as contralateral corticostriatal neurons were confirmed after labeling by intracellular injection of biocytin. 2. All well-stained PT neurons had intracortical and intrastriatal collaterals. The more common type (6 of 8) was a large, deep layer V neuron that had an extensive intracortical axon arborization but a limited axon arborization in the neostriatum. The less common type of PT neuron (2 of 8) was a medium-sized, superficial layer V neuron that had a limited intracortical axon arborization but a larger and more dense intrastriatal axonal arborization. Both subclasses of PT neurons had anatomic and physiological properties associated with slow PT cells in cats and monkeys and conduction velocities < 10 m/s. All of the PT cells but one were regular spiking cells. The exception cell fired intrinsic bursts. 3. Intracellularly stained CST neurons were located in the superficial half of layer V and the deep part of layer III. Their layer I apical dendrites were few and sparsely branched. Their axons gave rise to an extensive arbor of local axon collaterals that distributed in the region of the parent neuron, frequently extending throughout the more superficial layers, including layer I. Axon collaterals were also traced to the corpus callosum, as expected from their contralateral projections, and they contributed axon collaterals to the ipsilateral neostriatum. In the neostriatum, these axons formed extended arborizations sparsely occupying a large volume of striatal tissue. All CST neurons were regular spiking cells. 4. Both types of cells displayed spontaneous membrane fluctuations consisting of a polarized state (-60 to -90 mV) that was interrupted by 0.1- to 3.0-s periods of depolarization (-55 to -45 mV) accompanied by action potentials. The membrane potential was relatively constant in each state, and transitions between the depolarized and hyperpolarized states were sometimes periodic with a frequency of 0.3-1.5 Hz. A much faster (30-45 Hz) subthreshold oscillation of the membrane potential was observed only in the depolarized state and triggered action potentials that locked to the depolarizing peaks of this rhythm.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neostriatum / cytology
  • Neostriatum / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • biocytin
  • Lysine