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Neural Netw. 2009 Oct;22(8):1079-92. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2009.07.017. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

Spatiotemporal dynamics in the cortical microcircuit: a modelling study of primary visual cortex layer 2/3.

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Centre for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom.


The plexus of long and short range lateral connections is a prominent feature of the layer 2/3 microcircuit in the primary visual cortex. Despite the scope for possible functionality, the interdependence of local and long range circuits is still unclear. Spatiotemporal patterns of activity appear to be shaped by the underlying connectivity architecture and strong inhibition. A modelling study has been conducted to capture population activity that has been observed in vitro using voltage sensitive dyes. The model demonstrates that the precise spatiotemporal spread of activity seen in the cortical slice results from long range connections that target specific orientation domains whilst distinct regions of suppressed activity are shown to arise from local isotropic axonal projections. Distal excitatory activity resulting from long range axons is shaped by local interneurons similarly targeted by such connections. It is shown that response latencies of distal excitation are strongly influenced by frequency dependent facilitation and low threshold characteristics of interneurons. Together, these results support hypotheses made following experimental observations in vitro and clearly illustrate the underlying mechanisms. However, predictions by the model suggest that in vivo conditions give rise to markedly different spatiotemporal activity. Furthermore, opposing data in the literature regarding inter-laminar connectivity give rise to profoundly different spatiotemporal patterns of activity in the cortex.

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