Anisotropic distribution of thalamocortical boutons in barrels.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Neurosci, Volume 31, Issue 17, p.6432-9 (2011)


Action Potentials, Animals, Anisotropy, Biotin, Brain Mapping, Dextrans, Electric Stimulation, Male, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Presynaptic Terminals, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Somatosensory Cortex, Thalamus, Vibrissae


<p>A characteristic feature of the somatosensory cortex in rodents is the presence of discrete cellular aggregates in layer 4 (barrels) that process input from the mystacial vibrissae. Just like thalamic cells that relay vibrissal information to the barrels, barrel cells display directional preference to whisker motion. The present study examined whether the projection of single thalamic cells into a barrel is consistent with the existence of an orderly map of direction preference. The direction preference of single thalamic cells was assessed, and axonal projections were visualized after juxtacellular labeling with biotinylated dextran. Results show that the terminal field of individual thalamic neurons in a barrel is markedly anisotropic and that the location of boutons with respect to the somatotopic map is either positively or negatively correlated with the angular tuning of the thalamic neuron. These results indicate that angular tuning is not represented across a systematic map with fixed anteroposterior/mediolateral coordinates in a barrel. The actual significance of the direction-dependent segregation of thalamocortical terminals in barrels may only come to light in the context of active sensing.</p>

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