Nine pyramidal neurons in layers II and III of cat primary auditory cortex (AI) were fully reconstructed after intracellular injections of horseradish peroxidase or biocytin. Each neuron was functionally characterized ac cording to its position relative to an anteroposterior sequence of best frequency responses. All labeled somath were in layers II or III and gave rise to typical apical and basal dendritic arbors as well as to extensive systems of axon collaterals.
The primary axon of all except 1 cell entered the white matter and was probably directed toward other cortical areas ipsi-or contralaterally. Two major intracortical collateral systems emerged from the main axon in AI, one ending in the vicinity of the cell and the second at a distance. (1) Many local and recurrent col laterals, given off in layers III and V, contributed terminal branches to the formation of a columnar pattern of terminations extending superficially and deeply into the soma. The column extended through layers I-V. with some constriction in the middle portion corresponding to layer IV. (2) The axon of each cell also gave rise to 2–5 thick, long-range collaterals in layers III and/or V. These ran parallel to the pial surface for several millimeters. At several points along these long horizontal collaterals, vertically directed branches emerged to form columnar terminations, again extending through layers I-V. These columns did not overlap with that formed in the vicinity of the cell, and were situated at distances 500–1200 μm from the cell body.
When viewed in the tangential plane, horizontal collaterals were oriented, on the whole, dorsoventrally with respect to the surface of the cortex. This may correspond to the organization of isofrequency bands previously described in cats. The results suggest that the major spread of excitation in Al is mediated by horizontal collaterals of pyramidal cells and that it occurs along the lines of isofrequency domains. Within the latter the collaterals may link columns of cells with like properties and/or serve to coordinate activity patterns in spatially separated portions of Al.