Neocortical calretinin neurons in primates: increase in proportion and microcircuitry structure

Front Neuroanat. 2014 Sep 25;8:103. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00103. eCollection 2014.


In this article we first point at the expansion of associative cortical areas in primates, as well as at the intrinsic changes in the structure of the cortical column. There is a huge increase in proportion of glutamatergic cortical projecting neurons located in the upper cortical layers (II/III). Inside this group, a novel class of associative neurons becomes recognized for its growing necessity in both inter-areal and intra-areal columnar integration. Equally important to the changes in glutamatergic population, we found that literature data suggest a 50% increase in the proportion of neocortical GABAergic neurons between primates and rodents. This seems to be a result of increase in proportion of calretinin interneurons in layers II/III, population which in associative areas represents 15% of all neurons forming those layers. Evaluating data about functional properties of their connectivity we hypothesize that such an increase in proportion of calretinin interneurons might lead to supra-linear growth in memory capacity of the associative neocortical network. An open question is whether there are some new calretinin interneuron subtypes, which might substantially change micro-circuitry structure of the primate cerebral cortex.

Keywords: GABA; calretinin; neocortex; pyramidal neurons; species differences.

Publication types

  • Review