Numerical data on neocortical neurons in adult rat, with special reference to the GABA population

Brain Res. 1993 Apr 23;609(1-2):284-92. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(93)90884-p.


The disector method was used to estimate the numerical density of neurons (number per unit volume) and their actual number per column (number under a given area of pial surface), in the occipital (monocular segment of the primary visual area, Oc1M), the parietal (somatosensory barrelfield area, Par1) and the frontal cortex (primary motor area, Fr1) of adult rat. Values were first obtained for all neurons in each layer, and then for GABA neurons as identified with postembedding immunocytochemistry on semithin sections. The numerical density of neurons in the frontal cortex (34,000/mm3) was significantly lower than in the two other neocortical areas (occipital: 52,000; parietal: 48,000/mm3). The GABA population showed a similar difference and consequently represented an equivalent proportion of total (15%) in the three cortical areas. Across layers, there was an alternate distribution of low and high density of neurons from layers II-III to VI in the three cortical areas, with the highest density in layer IV of the two sensory areas. The laminar changes in density of the GABA neurons were not as pronounced as those of the overall population. Consequently, the layers with the highest overall neuronal densities tended to have a lower proportion of GABA neurons and vice versa. There were more neurons under 1 mm2 of surface in the parietal (90,000) than the occipital or the frontal cortex (71,000), which was also true of the GABA neurons. The greater number of neurons per column in the parietal cortex was mostly imputable to layer IV, the main recipient of thalamic axons.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Tissue Embedding
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid