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Nat Neurosci. 2015 Feb;18(2):170-81. doi: 10.1038/nn.3917. Epub 2015 Jan 27.

The neocortical circuit: themes and variations.

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UCL Institute of Neurology and UCL Department of Neuroscience, Physiology, and Pharmacology, University College London, London, UK.
Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Similarities in neocortical circuit organization across areas and species suggest a common strategy to process diverse types of information, including sensation from diverse modalities, motor control and higher cognitive processes. Cortical neurons belong to a small number of main classes. The properties of these classes, including their local and long-range connectivity, developmental history, gene expression, intrinsic physiology and in vivo activity patterns, are remarkably similar across areas. Each class contains subclasses; for a rapidly growing number of these, conserved patterns of input and output connections are also becoming evident. The ensemble of circuit connections constitutes a basic circuit pattern that appears to be repeated across neocortical areas, with area- and species-specific modifications. Such 'serially homologous' organization may adapt individual neocortical regions to the type of information each must process.

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