Sublaminar Subdivision of Mouse Auditory Cortex Layer 2/3 Based on Functional Translaminar Connections

J Neurosci. 2017 Oct 18;37(42):10200-10214. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1361-17.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


The cerebral cortex is subdivided into six layers based on morphological features. The supragranular layers 2/3 (L2/3) contain morphologically and genetically diverse populations of neurons, suggesting the existence of discrete classes of cells. In primates and carnivores L2/3 can be subdivided morphologically, but cytoarchitectonic divisions are less clear in rodents. Nevertheless, discrete classes of cells could exist based on their computational requirement, which might be linked to their associated functional microcircuits. Through in vitro slice recordings coupled with laser-scanning photostimulation we investigated whether L2/3 of male mouse auditory cortex contains discrete subpopulations of cells with specific functional microcircuits. We use hierarchical clustering on the laminar connection patterns to reveal the existence of multiple distinct classes of L2/3 neurons. The classes of L2/3 neurons are distinguished by the pattern of their laminar and columnar inputs from within A1 and their location within L2/3. Cells in superficial L2 show more extensive columnar integration than deeper L3 cells. Moreover, L3 cells receive more translaminar input from L4. In vivo imaging in awake mice revealed that L2 cells had higher bandwidth than L3 cells, consistent with the laminar differences in columnar integration. These results suggest that similar to higher mammals, rodent L2/3 is not a homogenous layer but contains several parallel microcircuits.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Layer 2/3 of auditory cortex is functionally diverse. We investigated whether L2/3 cells form classes based on their functional connectivity. We used in vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings with laser-scanning photostimulation and performed unsupervised clustering on the resulting excitatory and inhibitory connection patterns. Cells within each class were located in different sublaminae. Superficial cells showed wider integration along the tonotopic axis and the amount of L4 input varied with sublaminar location. To identify whether sensory responses varied with sublaminar location, we performed in vivo Ca2+ imaging and found that L2 cells were less frequency-selective than L3 cells. Our results show that the diversity of receptive fields in L2/3 is likely due to diversity in the underlying functional circuits.

Keywords: A1; bandwidth; circuit; cortex; layer 2/3; supragranular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques