The excitatory neuronal network of rat layer 4 barrel cortex
Sensory whiskers are mapped to rodent layer 4 somatosensory cortex as discrete units termed barrels, which can be visualized at high resolution in living brain slices. Both anatomical and physiological properties of the layer 4 neuronal network can thus be investigated in the context of the functional boundaries of this sensory map. Large-scale confinement of neuronal arbors to single barrels was suggested by restricted lateral diffusion of DiI across septa between barrels. Morphological analysis of dendritic and axonal arborizations of individual excitatory neurons showed that neuronal processes remain within the barrel of origin through polarization toward the center of the barrel. Functionally, the large-scale properties of the neuronal network were investigated through mapping the spatial extent of field EPSPs, which were found to attenuate at barrel borders. This ensemble property of a layer 4 barrel was further investigated by analyzing the connectivity of pairs of excitatory neurons with respect to the locations of the somata. Approximately one-third of the excitatory neurons within the same barrel were synaptically coupled. At the septum between adjacent barrels the connectivity dropped rapidly, and very few connections were found between neurons located in adjacent barrels. Each layer 4 barrel is thus composed of an excitatory neuronal network, which to a first order approximation, acts independently of its neighbors.
Department of Cell Physiology, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg D-69120, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Record created on 2007-12-18, modified on 2016-08-08