Bert Sakmann

Cortical Circuit and Decision Making


Abstract

To delineate the anatomical and functional basis of behaviours, like decision making, the representation of stimuli in the sensory cortex must be understood at the cellular level. In rodent cortex, tactile stimuli are represented almost simultaneously in a cell type-specific way in all cell cortical layers. Representation is also distributed over several cortical columns but the spread depends on the cell type (De Kock et al., 2007). The main cortical output cells are tufted pyramids in layer 5. In one subclass named layer 5B, thick-tufted cells have electrically excitable dendrites (Larkum et al., 2001). The function of thick-tufted cells, which span almost the entire cortical width, could be the detection of near simultaneous electrical activity in different cortical layers. Anatomical reconstruction of different cell types and registration into a standard reference frame of vibrissal cortex (Oberlaender et al., 2010) suggest that thick tufted cells are tuned to detect touch from input via lemniscal and paralemniscal thalamocortical projections (Oberlaender et al., 2011). Thick-tufted cells project to thalamus where the output spike pattern is filtered to provide a feedback signal to cortical thick-tufted cells depending on behavioral state.


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