Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Thalamus is a potent driver of cortical activity even though cortical synapses onto excitatory layer 4 neurons outnumber thalamic synapses 10 to 1. Previous in vitro studies have proposed that thalamocortical (TC) synapses are stronger than corticocortical (CC) synapses. Here, we investigated possible anatomical and physiological differences between these inputs in the rat in vivo. We developed a high-throughput light microscopy method, validated by electron microscopy, to completely map the locations of synapses across an entire dendritic tree. This demonstrated that TC synapses are slightly more proximal to the soma than CC synapses, but detailed compartmental modeling predicted that dendritic filtering does not appreciably favor one synaptic class over another. Measurements of synaptic strength in intact animals confirmed that both TC and CC synapses are weak and approximately equivalent. We conclude that thalamic effectiveness does not rely on enhanced TC strength, but rather on coincident activation of converging inputs.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





6746 - 6758


compartmental, confocal, dendrite, in vivo, optogenetics, synapse, Action Potentials, Animals, Cerebral Cortex, Dendrites, Dendritic Spines, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission, Thalamus