Our previous study indicated that the nucleus semilunaris in birds is a visual center. The present study using pigeon brain slices shows that 84 semilunar cells examined could be grouped into five types according to responses to depolarizing current injections. Type I cells (early bursting, 44%) fire a single burst followed by regular spiking. Type II cells (regular spiking, 13%) regularly produce spikes, the rates of which are enhanced as currents are increased. Type III cells (bursting, 17%) discharge a series of bursts each consisting of 2–4 spikes. Type IV cells (dual spiking, 15%) evoke both spikes and spikelets. Type V cells (inhibition-following, 11%) are characterized by regular spiking followed by an inhibitory period after current cessation. Morphologically, semilunar neurons have piriform, round, or fusiform somata of 12–23 µm in diameter, which give rise to 2–4 primary dendrites with sparse branches. Dual spiking activity is invariably correlated with dye coupling, and bursting cells have a tendency to be fusiform in shape. Other types of semilunar cells do not show a correlation between their firing patterns and morphological features.

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