Cortico-cortical projections in mouse visual cortex are functionally target specific

Nat Neurosci. 2013 Feb;16(2):219-26. doi: 10.1038/nn.3300. Epub 2013 Jan 6.


Neurons in primary sensory cortex have diverse response properties, whereas higher cortical areas are specialized. Specific connectivity may be important for areal specialization, particularly in the mouse, where neighboring neurons are functionally diverse. To examine whether higher visual areas receive functionally specific input from primary visual cortex (V1), we used two-photon calcium imaging to measure responses of axons from V1 arborizing in three areas with distinct spatial and temporal frequency preferences. We found that visual preferences of presynaptic boutons in each area were distinct and matched the average preferences of recipient neurons. This specificity could not be explained by organization within V1 and instead was due to both a greater density and greater response amplitude of functionally matched boutons. Projections from a single layer (layer 5) and from secondary visual cortex were also matched to their target areas. Thus, transmission of specific information to downstream targets may be a general feature of cortico-cortical communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Calcium
  • Dexamethasone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma / genetics
  • Rhodamines / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*


  • Rbp4 protein, mouse
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma
  • Rhodamines
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dexamethasone
  • sulforhodamine 101
  • Calcium