Electrophysiological Properties of Pyramidal Neurons in the Rat Prefrontal Cortex: An In Vivo Intracellular Recording Study

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In order to determine the electrophysiological properties of prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons in vivo, intracellular recordings coupled with neurobiotin injection were performed in anesthetized rats. Three main classes of pyramidal cells were distinguished according to both their firing patterns in response to depolarizing current pulses and the characteristics of their action potentials: regular spiking (RS, n=71); intrinsic (inactivating) bursting (IB, n=8); and non-inactivating bursting (NIB, n=26) cells. RS cells were further subdivided into slow-adapting and fast-adapting types, according to their firing frequency adaptation. IB and fast-adapting RS cells could exhibit different firing patterns depending on the intensity of the depolarizing current. In response to successive depolarizing pulses of a given intensity, NIB and some RS cells showed variations in their firing patterns, probably due to the impact of local synaptic activity. All the labeled neurons were pyramidal cells with an apical dendrite that formed a terminal tuft in layer I. As compared to RS cells, NIB cells had a smaller somatic size and their apical dendritic tuft was less extensive, while IB cells presented a larger somatic size, thicker dendrites and a wider extent of their basal and apical dendritic arborization. In conclusion, we found in the rat prefrontal cortex, in vivo, different electrophysiological classes of pyramidal cells whose output firing patterns depend on interactions between their intrinsic properties and the ongoing synaptic activity.

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