Loose-patch-juxtacellular recording in vivo-A method for functional characterization and labeling of neurons in macaque V1

S. Joshi, M. J. Hawken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a method that uses a modified version of juxtacellular labeling [Pinault D. A novel single-cell staining procedure performed in vivo under electrophysiological control: morpho-functional features of juxtacellularly labeled thalamic cells and other central neurons with biocytin or neurobiotin. J Neurosci Meth 1996;65:113-36], which allows us to functionally characterize and subsequently label single neurons in vivo in macaque V1. The method is generally applicable in acute in vivo preparations. Extracellular recording is made with a patch electrode when the electrode is attached to the cell membrane. Initially a 'blind' search method is used as a guide to obtaining a cell attached configuration that we refer to as a loose-patch (LP). The neuron's receptive field properties are functionally characterized, the neuron is labeled and then characterization is confirmed, all in the LP configuration. There are a number of advantages of the method that we describe over other methods. First, we have found that we can obtain stable extracellular recordings for periods of hours that enable us to make a relatively comprehensive visual functional characterization of a neuron's receptive field properties. Second, because the electrode is closely apposed to the cell we obtain excellent isolation of the extracellular spike. Third, the method provides labeling that gives complete dendritic and axonal filling that survives over a number of days, which is an important feature in acute primate experiments. Fourth, the in vivo method of labeling and reconstructing neurons gives complete three-dimensional structure of the neuron including its intra-cortical axonal arbor. These features overcome known limits of the established methods of studying neuronal morphology including the Golgi stain (limited when adult tissue is used) and in vitro whole cell methods (incomplete axonal filling due to limited slice thickness). They also overcome the known limits of the established method of combined function-morphology studies i.e. intracellular recording in vivo. The modified juxtacellular method provides a reliable alternative to the difficult method of characterization by extracellular recording and subsequent intracellular labeling [Anderson JC, Martin KAC, Whitteridge D. Form, function and intracortical projections of neurons in the striate cortex of the monkey Macacus nemestrinus. Cerebral Cortex 1993;3:412-20]. We show the method can be used to record at a range of depths through V1 cortex allowing for sampling of neurons in the different layers and functional subpopulations. Links can then be made with existing knowledge about the anatomical organization of V1, the various morphological classes of neurons found therein, their functional connectivity and visual response properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 30 2006


  • Functional characterization
  • Juxtacellular
  • Loose-patch
  • Macaque
  • Morphology
  • Striate cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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