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The structure of the first auditory cortex (A I) in the cat

A. Sousa-Pinto


The cyto- and mieloarchitecture of the first auditory cortex (A I) was studied in the cat. The cortical layers II, III and IV are very densely populated by relatively uniform, round or stellate cells with 20 to 30 micro perikaryal diameter. The separation between these three layers, which is not possible in Nissl stained sections, becomes visible in 1 to 3 micro thick sections of plastic embedded material. nerve cells in layer II are randomly disposed, whilst they form in laver III loose rounded cellular groups, and in layer IV vertical cylinders which have 50 to 60 micro in outside diameter and a cell poor centre. These cylinders are best visible in 100 micro thick Nissl preparations, cut parallel to the pial surface. The cylinders may extend into layer V, which is comparatively cell poor. The VIth layer contains numerous round, stellate or fusiform cells with 20 to 30 micro in diameter. The IIIrd and Vth layers have few pyramidal perikarya which are small. Large or giant pyramidal cells are not found in A I. The overall thickness of the cortex in the convexity of A I is 2,000 micro, measured in sections of plastic blocks. The thickness of the 6 layers is 200 to 250 micro for layer I; 300 micro for layer II; 300 micro for layer III; 300 to 400, for layer IV; 350 micro for layer V; and 400 micro for layer VI. In preparations stained for myelin sheats A I is characterized by the presence of a very dense plexus of fibres running in all directions in the IVth, Vth anti VIth layers. These plexus obscurs the radiations of Meynert, giving a characteristic appearance to A I, since these radiations are prominent in the neighbouring cortical areas. In preliminary studies of Golgi rapid preparations of A I the cell types commonly present in others cortical areas were found. Pyramidal cells have small perikarya, and very long (600 micro) horizontal basal dendrites. Modified pyramidal cells (star pyramids) are the main cellular element in layer II and constitute one of the main sources of efferent fibres of A I. Several types of stellate cells were found, including a particular cell type, found very often in the IVth layer, with a very long horizontal axon. The specific thalamic afferents were identified as fibres with 5 or 8 micro in diameter, which run obliquely and sinuously through the VIth and Vth layers of A I. These fibres give off many branches with 1 to 2 micro in diameter, which pass to the IVth layer where they give off very thin sinuous branches, ending in small terminal knobs. The ramification of one of these fibres may spread horizontally over 800 micros, at the level of the IVth layer.

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