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Growth of Callosal Terminal Arbors in Primary Visual Areas of the Cat


G. M. Innocenti, as above


In kittens ranging in age between postnatal day (P) 5 and P150, callosal axons originating near the 17/18 border were anterogradely labelled with biocytin and reconstructed from serial sections. At the end of the first postnatal week most of the axons begin to invade the cortex near the 17/18 border with multiple branches; some axons already span the grey matter up to layer I. Branches tend to grow into the grey matter in loose bundles ≤l00 μm in diameter, separated by empty spaces of comparable width. In the following weeks additional branches are produced in the grey matter; this appears to blur the initial bundled distribution, although by the end of the first postnatal month the branches are distributed in discrete patches similar to the adult terminal columns. Although a few boutons (presumably synaptic boutons) are found in the white matter/subplate region at earlier ages, they appear in the grey matter from P12 onwards. Their number per axon increases with age, reaching adult values about the end of the first month. Subsequently the number of boutons continues to increase and remains above adult values at P50, P65 and P80; it then decreases, reaching adult levels by P150. During the first month boutons tend to be more numerous in the infragranular layers, but then the trend reverses in favour of the supragranular layers. In most cases, the distribution of boutons spares layer IV partially or completely. From the onset boutons are distributed in radial‘columns’whose diameter increases with age. They maintain selective laminar and columnar distributions through the period of rapid and exuberant increase. These distributions do not appear to be sharpened further by the reduction in the number of boutons to adult levels. On the whole, callosal terminal arbors differentiate through stages of exuberant, albeit progressively constrained, growth involving both progressive and regressive events. Comparisons with previous work suggest that visual activity might finely shape the arbor, from the onset of synaptogenesis onwards.

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