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J Neurosci. 2003 Jan 1;23(1):96-102.

Synaptic interactions of late-spiking neocortical neurons in layer 1.

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Departments of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5342, USA.


Layer 1 of the neocortex is an important zone in which synaptic integration of inputs originating from a variety of cerebral regions is thought to take place. Layer 1 does not contain pyramidal cells, and several histochemical studies have suggested that most layer 1 neurons are GABAergic. However, although layer 1 neurons could be an important source of inhibition in this layer, the synaptic action of these neurons and the identity of their postsynaptic targets are unknown. We studied the physiological properties and synaptic interactions of a class of cells within layer 1 called late-spiking (LS) cells. The dendrites and axons of layer 1 LS cells were confined primarily to layer 1. Using paired recording, we showed that LS cells formed GABAergic connections with other LS cells as well as with non-LS cells in layer 1 and with pyramidal cells in layer 2/3. We also found that layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons provide excitatory inputs to LS cells. It has been suggested previously that GABAergic neurons belonging to the same class in the cortex are electrically coupled. In agreement with that hypothesis, we found that LS cells were interconnected by electrical coupling (83%), whereas electrical coupling between LS cells and non-LS cells was infrequent (2%). Thus, we provide evidence showing that a group of GABAergic neurons within layer 1 are specifically interconnected by electrical coupling and can provide significant inhibitory inputs to neurons in layer 1 and to distal dendrites of pyramidal cells.

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