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Age-related changes to layer 3 pyramidal cells in the rhesus monkey visual cortex.

The effects of normal aging on morphologic and electrophysiologic properties of layer 3 pyramidal neurons in rhesus monkey primary visual cortex (V1) were assessed with whole-cell, patch-clamp recordings in in vitro slices. In another cohort of monkeys, the ultrastructure of synapses in the layers 2-3 neuropil of V1 was assessed using electron microscopy. Distal apical dendritic branching complexity was reduced in aged neurons, as was the total spine density, due to specific loss of mushroom spines from the apical tree and of thin spines from the basal tree. There was also an age-related decrease in the numerical density of symmetric and asymmetric synapses. In contrast to these structural changes, intrinsic membrane, action potential (AP), and excitatory and inhibitory synaptic current properties were the same in aged and young neurons. Computational modeling using morphologic reconstructions predicts that reduced dendritic complexity leads to lower attenuation of voltage outward from the soma (e.g., backpropagating APs) in aged neurons. Importantly, none of the variables that changed with age differed in neurons from cognitively impaired versus unimpaired aged monkeys. In summary, there are age-related alterations to the structural properties of V1 neurons, but these are not associated with significant electrophysiologic changes or with cognitive decline.

Pubmed ID: 24323499


  • Luebke JI
  • Medalla M
  • Amatrudo JM
  • Weaver CM
  • Crimins JL
  • Hunt B
  • Hof PR
  • Peters A


Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)

Publication Data

June 13, 2015

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: K99 MH101234
  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: P01 AG00001
  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: R01 AG025062
  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: R01 AG035071
  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: R01 AG035071
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC05669
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH071818

Mesh Terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cognition
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dendritic Spines
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Female
  • Lysine
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells
  • Synapses
  • Visual Cortex