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J Neurosci. 2011 Sep 7;31(36):12738-47. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1565-11.2011.

Synaptic properties of thalamic input to the subgranular layers of primary somatosensory and auditory cortices in the mouse.

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Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


The classification of synaptic inputs is an essential part of understanding brain circuitry. In the present study, we examined the synaptic properties of thalamic inputs to pyramidal neurons in layers 5a, 5b, and 6 of primary somatosensory (S1) and auditory (A1) cortices in mouse thalamocortical slices. Stimulation of the ventral posterior medial nucleus and the ventral division of the medial geniculate body resulted in three distinct response classes, two of which have never been described before in thalamocortical projections. Class 1A responses included synaptic depression and all-or-none responses, while Class 1B responses exhibited synaptic depression and graded responses. Class 1C responses are characterized by mixed facilitation and depression as well as graded responses. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors was not observed in any of the response classes. We conclude that Class 1 responses can be broken up into three distinct subclasses, and that thalamic inputs to the subgranular layers of cortex may combine with other, intracortical inputs to drive their postsynaptic target cells. We also integrate these results with our recent, analogous study of thalamocortical inputs to granular and supragranular layers (Viaene et al., 2011).

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