The three-dimensional intrahippocampal distribution of axon collaterals of an in vivo filled CA3c pyramidal cell was investigated. The neuron was filled with biocytin in an anesthetized rat and the collaterals were reconstructed with the aid of a NeuroLucida program from 48 coronal sections. The total length of the axon collaterals exceeded 0.5 m, with almost 40,000 synaptic boutons. The majority of the collaterals were present in the CA1 region (70.0%), whereas 27.6% constituted CA3 recurrent collaterals with the remaining minority of axons returning to the dentate gyrus. The axon arbor covered more than two thirds of the longitudinal axis of the hippocampus, and the terminals were randomly distributed both locally and distally from the soma. We suggest that the CA3 system can be conceptualized as a single-module, in which nearby and distant targets are contacted by the same probability (similar to a mathematically defined random graph). This arrangement, in combination with the parallel input granule cells and parallel output CA1 pyramidal cells, appears ideal for segregation and integration of information and memories.
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