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J Neurosci. 2003 Apr 1;23(7):2961-70.

Cell type-specific circuits of cortical layer IV spiny neurons.

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C. & O. Vogt Institute for Brain Research, University of Duesseldorf, D-40001 Duesseldorf, Germany.


Sensory signal processing in cortical layer IV involves two major morphological classes of excitatory neurons: spiny stellate and pyramidal cells. It is essentially unknown how these two cell types are integrated into intracortical networks and whether they play different roles in cortical signal processing. We mapped their cell-specific intracortical afferents in rat somatosensory cortex through a combination of whole-cell patch-clamp recordings and caged glutamate photolysis. Spiny stellate cells received monosynaptic excitation and inhibition originating almost exclusively from neurons located within the same barrel. Pyramidal cells, by contrast, displayed additional excitatory inputs from nongranular layers and from neighboring barrels. Their inhibitory inputs originated, as for spiny stellate cells, mainly from neurons located in the same barrel. These results indicate that spiny stellate cells act predominantly as local signal processors within a single barrel, whereas pyramidal cells globally integrate horizontal and top-down information within a functional column and between neighboring barrels.

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