Intracellular recordings from morphologically identified neurons of the basolateral amygdala

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Apr;69(4):1350-62. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.69.4.1350.


1. Intracellular current-clamp recordings were made from neurons of the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) of the rat in the in vitro slice preparation. Neurons were identified morphologically after intracellular injection of biocytin, and the electrophysiological properties and morphological characteristics were correlated. 2. Three distinct morphological subtypes were identified: Class I pyramidal neurons, Class I stellate neurons, and Class II neurons. Each morphological subtype could also be distinguished according to its characteristic electrophysiological properties. 3. Class I pyramidal neurons typically had pyramidal perikarya (cross-sectional area = 245 microns2) with spine-laden apical and basal dendrites. The axon originated from the largest basal dendrite and produced several collaterals that ramified throughout the dendritic arborization of the parent cell. These neurons were characterized electrophysiologically by their higher input resistance (65.6 M omega), long time constant of membrane charging tau 0 (27.8 ms), long duration action potential (half-width = 0.85 ms), and regular firing pattern [1st interspike interval ISI) = 91 ms]. 4. Class I stellate neurons differed morphologically from Class I pyramidal neurons only in the size (cross sectional area = 330 microns 2) and stellate appearance of their perikarya. These neurons had characteristic lower input resistance (40.1 M omega), shorter time constant of membrane charging tau 0 (14.5 ms), shorter duration action potential (half-width = 0.7 ms), and a burst firing pattern (1st ISI = 6.0 ms), all of which were statistically different from Class I pyramidal neurons. 5. Class II neurons were multipolar (cross sectional area = 235 microns 2) and were distinguishable from Class I neurons by the almost complete absence of dendritic spines. Class II neurons were characterized electrophysiologically by a midrange input resistance (58 M omega), intermediate time constant of membrane charging tau 0 (19 ms), intermediate action-potential duration (half-width = 0.77 ms), and a burst firing pattern (1st ISI = 6.0 ms). In contrast to Class I neurons, action-potential firing of Class II neurons did not accommodate in response to prolonged depolarizing current injection. 6. In conclusion, BLA neurons may be characterized by their specific electrophysiological properties as well as by their morphological traits. Therefore, permitting assessment of signal transduction in identified populations of neurons within this nucleus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley