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Exp Brain Res. 2004 Oct;158(3):265-77. Epub 2004 Jul 28.

Some thoughts on cortical minicolumns.

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Laboratory for Cortical Organization and Systematics, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-shi, 351-0198, Saitama, Japan.


Although a columnar geometry is one of the defining features of cortical organization, major issues regarding its basic nature, key features, and functional significance remain unclear and often controversial. This review is intended to survey some of the basic anatomical features of columnar organization, and in particular the smaller scale dendritic minicolumns. One motive was simply to clarify what seem to be differences in terminology, where "minicolumn" can be used to refer to vertical rows of cells, pyramidal cell modules, or apical dendritic bundles. A second aim was to review anatomical details which over the years have tended increasingly to be overlooked. A third aim was to expand on recent results concerning the border of layers 1 and 2 as a specialized zone with its own micromodular organization. Views on columnar organization have arguably been heavily influenced by a desire for general principles; but re-examination of the complex underlying features may be both timely and worthwhile. We point out that what are defined as dendritic bundles do not extend through the full cortical thickness and are not strictly repetitive, but rather display significant inter- and intra-areal variation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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