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Neurosci Res. 2005 Oct;53(2):95-103.

Inter- and intra-laminar connections of pyramidal cells in the neocortex.

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Department of Pharmacology, The School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK.


The flow of excitation through cortical columns has long since been predicted by studying the axonal projection patterns of excitatory neurones situated within different laminae. In grossly simplified terms and assuming random connectivity, such studies predict that input from the thalamus terminates primarily in layer 4, is relayed 'forward' to layer 3, then to layers 5 and 6 from where the modified signal may exit the cortex. Projection patterns also indicate 'back' projections from layer 5 to 3 and layer 6 to 4. More recently it has become clear that the interconnections between these layers are not random; forward projections primarily contact specific pyramidal subclasses and intracortical back projections innervate interneurones. This indicates that presynaptic axons or postsynaptic dendrites are capable of selecting their synaptic partners and that this selectivity is layer dependent. For the past decade, we and others have studied pyramidal cell targeting in circuits both within, and between laminae using paired intracellular recordings with biocytin filling and have begun to identify further levels of selectivity through the preferential targeting of electrophysiologically and/or morphologically distinct pyramidal subtypes. Presented here, therefore, is a brief overview of current thinking on the layer and subclass specific connectivity of neocortical principle excitatory cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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