Thalamocortical angular tuning domains within individual barrels of rat somatosensory cortex.
Bruno RM., Khatri V., Land PW., Simons DJ.
In the rodent somatosensory cortex, whisker-related barrels in layer IV are morphological counterparts of functional cortical columns that extend throughout the cortical depth. We used microelectrode recordings and spike-triggered averaging of field potentials evoked by single thalamic barreloid neurons to investigate functional thalamocortical microcircuits. The function of such circuits was probed by deflecting the principal whisker of a barrel in different angular directions. We found that individual barrels contain minicolumns of neurons preferring the same deflection angle. Angular tuning domains are established by convergent inputs from thalamocortical cells with corresponding angular preferences. Processing within such domains may depend on local connectivity among vertically aligned barrel neurons.