Laminar localization, morphology, and physiological properties of pyramidal neurons that have the low-threshold calcium current in the guinea-pig medial frontal cortex

J Neurosci. 1996 Sep 1;16(17):5301-11. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.16-17-05301.1996.


One of the several types of ionic currents present in central neurons is the low-threshold, or T-type calcium current (LTCC). This current is responsible for the firing of low-threshold calcium spikes (LTS) and participates in the generation of rhythmic activity and bursts of action potentials in several brain nuclei. We have studied the distribution and properties of pyramidal neurons recorded from the guinea-pig medial frontal cortex that have this calcium current. Pyramidal neurons were recorded in an in vitro slice preparation using either current clamp or single-electrode voltage-clamp recording. Pyramidal neurons that generated LTS or had the LTCC were found only between 500 mm from the pial surface and the white matter (approximately layers V/VI) and were absent in more superficial layers. All pyramidal neurons that fired LTS or had the LTCC were characterized as regular spiking and had some important morphological and physiological differences from the rest of the pyramidal neurons studied. This group of neurons had shorter and less complex apical dendritic arbors, fired action potentials of lower amplitude and longer duration, and were the only type of pyramidal neurons able to generate bursts of action potentials. In addition, the inhibitory synaptic potentials elicited by stimulation of layer I were more powerful in this group of neurons. This research provides new evidence for the presence of the LTCC in subsets of cortical pyramidal neurons, which have specific and well defined morphological and physiological properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Differential Threshold
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*


  • Calcium