Contribution of Intracolumnar Layer 2/3-to-Layer 2/3 Excitatory Connections in Shaping the Response to Whisker Deflection in Rat Barrel Cortex

This computational study integrates anatomical and physiological data to assess the functional role of the lateral excitatory connections between layer 2/3 (L2/3) pyramidal cells (PCs) in shaping their response during early stages of intracortical processing of a whisker deflection (WD). Based on in vivo and in vitro recordings, and 3D reconstructions of connected pairs of L2/3 PCs, our model predicts that: 1) AMPAR and NMDAR conductances/synapse are 0.52 ± 0.24 and 0.40 ± 0.34 nS, respectively; 2) following WD, connection between L2/3 PCs induces a composite EPSPs of 7.6 ± 1.7 mV, well below the threshold for action potential (AP) initiation; 3) together with the excitatory feedforward L4-to-L2/3 connection, WD evoked a composite EPSP of 16.3 ± 3.5 mV and a probability of 0.01 to generate an AP. When considering the variability in L4 spiny neurons responsiveness, it increased to 17.8 ± 11.2 mV; this 3-fold increase in the SD yielded AP probability of 0.35; 4) the interaction between L4-to-L2/3 and L2/3-to-L2/3 inputs is highly nonlinear; 5) L2/3 dendritic morphology significantly affects L2/3 PCs responsiveness. We conclude that early stages of intracortical signaling of WD are dominated by a combination of feedforward L4–L2/3 and L2/3–L2/3 lateral connections.

Authors: Leora Sarid; Dirk Feldmeyer; Albert Gidon; Bert Sakmann; Idan Segev,
Year of publication: 2013
Journal: Cereb Cortex. 25(4): 849–858.

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