The perirhinal cortex (PRC) is a supra-modal cortical area that collects and integrates information originating from uni- and multi-modal neocortical regions, transmits it to the hippocampus, and receives a feedback from the hippocampus itself. The elucidation of the mechanisms that underlie the specific excitable properties of the different PRC neuronal types appears as an important step toward the understanding of the integrative functions of PRC. In this study, we investigated the biophysical properties of the transient, I (A)-type K(+) current recorded in pyramidal neurons acutely dissociated from layers II/III of PRC of the rat (P8-P16). The current activated at about -50 mV and showed a fast monoexponential decay (tau(h) >> 14 ms at -30 to +10 mV). I (A) recovery from inactivation also had a monoexponential time course. No significant differences in the biophysical properties or current density of I (A) were found in pyramidal neurons from rats of different ages. Application of 4-AP (1-5 mM) reversibly and selectively blocked I (A), and in current clamp conditions it increased spike duration and shortened the delay of the first spike during repetitive firing evoked by sustained depolarizing current injection. These properties are similar to those of the I (A) found in thalamic neurons and other cortical pyramidal neurons. Our results suggest that I (A) contributes to spike repolarization and to regulate both spike onset timing and firing frequency in PRC neurons.
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