Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the cerebral cortex. It has been associated with several neuronal types showing morphological features radically different from those of pyramidal cells, which are considered excitatory in function. Of all the GABA cell types, the so-called cortical basket cells are characteristic in that their axons, when viewed under the light microscope, terminate on the somata and proximal dendrites of other cells, mainly pyramidal and spiny stellate cells. Such a distribution pattern of basket-cell terminals strongly suggests a significant influence on the output characteristics of their target cells. The chapter describes the varieties and distribution pattern of basket cells in the feline visual cortex and highlights some of their intriguing connectivity rules that may be related to their particular functional tasks. The very nature of basket cells is that they make multiple contacts with the somata of pyramidal and spiny stellate cells. This has long been recognized and has constituted the basic structural phenomenon in distinguishing basket cells from other smooth or sparsely spiny dendritic cell types.
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