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Nature. 1986 Mar 27-Apr 2;320(6060):362-5.

Generation of end-inhibition in the visual cortex via interlaminar connections.


To understand the mechanisms by which the receptive field properties of visual cortical cells are generated, one must consider both the thalamic input to the cortex and the intrinsic cortical connections. In the cat striate cortex, layer 4 is the main recipient of input from the lateral geniculate nucleus, yet the cells in that layer possess several receptive field properties that are distinct from the geniculate input, including orientation specificity, binocularity, directionality and end-inhibition, the last of which allows cells to respond to edges of a restricted length. These properties could be generated by connections within the layer, by its input from the claustrum or by the massive projection that layer 4 receives from layer 6. In the present study, we attempted to determine the functional role of the layer 6 to layer 4 projection by reversible inactivation of layer 6 using the inhibitory transmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). After inactivating layer 6, cells in layer 4 lost end-inhibition. Cells in layer 2 + 3, which receive their principal input from layer 4, were similarly affected. The elimination of end-inhibition was specific, other receptive field properties, such as direction selectivity or orientation specificity, remaining intact.

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