In layer 6 (L6), a principal output layer of the mammalian cerebral cortex, a population of excitatory neurons defined by the NTSR1-Cre mouse line inhibit cortical responses to visual stimuli. Here we show that of the two major types of excitatory neurons existing in L6, the NTSR1-Cre line selectively targets those whose axons innervate both cortex and thalamus and not those whose axons remain within the cortex. These corticothalamic neurons mediate widespread inhibition across all cortical layers by recruiting fast-spiking inhibitory neurons whose cell body resides in deep cortical layers yet whose axons arborize throughout all layers. This study reveals a circuit by which L6 modulates cortical activity and identifies an inhibitory neuron able to regulate the strength of cortical responses throughout cortical depth.
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