The periglomerular region of the olfactory bulb, apart from containing the somata and stem dendrites of the cells contributing to the glomeruli, is the sole region of distribution of the periglomerular cell thin dendrites and the short-axon cell dendrites. It is also the major site of termination of all axons to the glomerular layer except the olfactory axons - i.e. tufted cell collaterals, periglomerular cell and short-axon cell axons and centrifugal fibres. Its characteristic neuropil has been studied with the electron microscope to define the cells of origin of the types of neuronal process and their synaptic relationships. Three types of axon terminals have been found: those with spherical, large flattened and small flattened vesicles, which are deduced to derive from tufted cell collaterals or centrifugal fibres, periglomerular cell and short axon-cell axons respectively; those with spherical vesicles are consistently associated with asymmetrical membrane thickenings and those with either type of flattened vesicles with symmetrical thickenings. The thin periglomerular cell dendrites are very irregular and often have a somewhat dense cytoplasm, rich in ribosomes; they may become extended into very attenuated glia-like sheets that surround the mitral or tufted cell stem dendrites, from which they may receive synaptic contacts. Such dendrites also receive some synapses from all 3 types of axon in the periglomerular region. The short-axon cell dendrites are thick and varicose and show no sign of synaptic specialization oriented from them; they have few spines but receive many asymmetrical-type synapses on their shafts. Both axon terminal types synapsing with symmetrical thickenings are also found on the shafts. The evidence obtained from the study of normal material is summarized and the various cellular roles considered. In the light of observations on the olfactory bulb, it is suggested that dendrites may be divided into 2 major classes: those that only receive synapses (Class A) and those that make synaptic contacts as well as receiving them (Class B). Further comparisons with the deep layers of the bulb and physiological implications are discussed.

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