This is a survey of the distribution, form, and proportion of neurons immunoreactive for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) in cat primary auditory cortex (AI). The cells were studied in adult animals and were classified with respect to their somatic size, shape, and laminar location, and with regard to the origins and branching pattern of their dendrites. These attributes were used to relate each of the GAD-positive neuronal types to their counterparts in Golgi preparations.
Each layer had a particular set of GABAergic cell types that is unique to it. There were 10 different GABAergic cell types in AI. Some were specific to one layer, such as the horizontal cells in layer I or the extraverted multipolar cells in layer II, while other types, such as the small and medium-sized multipolar cells, were found in every layer.
The number and proportion of GABAergic cells were determined by using postembedding immunocytochemistry. The proportion of GABAergic neurons was 24.6%. This was slightly higher than the values reported elsewhere in the neocortex. The laminer differences in density and proportion of GABAergic and non-GABAergic neurons were also comparable (though somewhat higher) to those found in other cortical areas: thus, 94% of layer I cells were GABAergic, while the values in other layers ranged from 27% (layer V) to 16% (layer VI). Layer VI had the most heterogeneous population of GABAergic neurons.
The proportion of these cells across different regions within AI was studied. Since some receptive field properties such as sharpness of tuning and aurality are distributed non-uniformly across AI, these might be reflected by regional differences across the cerebral cortex. There were significantly more GABAergic somata in layers III and IV in the central part of AI, along the dorsoventral axis, where physiological studies report that the neurons are tuned most sharply (Schreiner and Mendelson  J. Neurophysiol. 64:1442–1459). Thus, there may be a structural basis for certain aspects of local inhibitory neuronal organization. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.