Anatomy of the Cortex: Statistics and Geometry by Prof. Dr. Valentino Braitenberg, Priv. Doz. Dr. Almut Schüz

By Prof. Dr. Valentino Braitenberg, Priv. Doz. Dr. Almut Schüz (auth.)

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I ·:· ,. 4 . -. , •· ,fl • • .. •. -, "' 7- ··: •. '• .... ' .... . . ,. I. . .. ·". • : . . ~. : . 1-· ' : . ·. Density of Synapses 37 The comparison of the same region of the section in the two kinds of pictures (Fig. 18) shows that most of the light speckles in the dark field micrograph do indeed correspond to the location of synapses. Unfortunately, for reasons of wave optics, two or more synapses that lie too close together appear as one point in the dark field picture.

The figure of about 10 5 per square mm corresponds to that given by Rockel et al. (I 980). We are as yet unable to attach a meaning to this remarkable constancy. The total number of neurons in the mouse cortex can be estimated from their number in a unit volume. The volume of the cortex, including the hippocampus, amounts to about 90 mm 3 on each side. 6 x 10 7. We remind the reader that the estimates for the human cortex hover around JOIO, almost 1000 times more neurons than in the mouse. If only the volume of the neocortex is considered, in other words, excluding the hippocampus, the number of neurons in the mouse is 1 x 107 in the two hemispheres.

We know that in primary sensory areas, at the cortical level where the input fibres terminate, up to 20% of the synapses are supplied by extracortical afferents (White 1986) but in other areas and other layers the percentage is likely to be much lower. Be that as it may, the comparison of axonal density with synaptic density speaks rather in favour of the higher value for the axonal length. m. m along the axon. m, we would have to assume that in many places the synapses are spaced at even shorter distances along the axon.

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