Abstract

Physiological and morphological properties of identified interneurons in the striate cortex of the cat were studied in vivo by intracellular recording and staining with biocytin. In conformity with in vitro studies, these non-pyramidal fast spiking cells have very brief action potentials associated with a high rate of fall, and a large hyperpolarizing afterpotential. These cells show high discharge rates, little or no spike frequency adaptation in response to depolarizing current injection, as well as a diverse range of firing patterns. Three of the cells were labeled and were found to be aspiny or sparsely spiny basket cells, with bitufted or radial dendritic arrangements, in layers II-IV. Their axonal arborizations were more dense near their somata and extended horizontally or vertically. Of 13 visually responsive cells tested, the receptive field properties of six cells and the orientation and direction preferences of eight cells were determined. Five of the successfully mapped cells had simple receptive fields while one had a complex receptive field type. The orientation and direction tuning properties of the overlapping set of eight cells showed a broad spectrum ranging from unselective to tightly tuned. The majority exhibited a clear preference for orientation and none of the cells were clearly direction selective. Quantitative analysis of the temporal properties of the spike trains during visual stimulation and spontaneous activity revealed that these cells do not exhibit any significant periodic activity, and fired at rates that were well below their maximum in response to depolarizing current pulses.