Cell Type-Specific Structural Organization of the Six Layers in Rat Barrel Cortex

Front Neuroanat. 2017 Oct 13;11:91. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2017.00091. eCollection 2017.


The cytoarchitectonic subdivision of the neocortex into six layers is often used to describe the organization of the cortical circuitry, sensory-evoked signal flow or cortical functions. However, each layer comprises neuronal cell types that have different genetic, functional and/or structural properties. Here, we reanalyze structural data from some of our recent work in the posterior-medial barrel-subfield of the vibrissal part of rat primary somatosensory cortex (vS1). We quantify the degree to which somata, dendrites and axons of the 10 major excitatory cell types of the cortex are distributed with respect to the cytoarchitectonic organization of vS1. We show that within each layer, somata of multiple cell types intermingle, but that each cell type displays dendrite and axon distributions that are aligned to specific cytoarchitectonic landmarks. The resultant quantification of the structural composition of each layer in terms of the cell type-specific number of somata, dendritic and axonal path lengths will aid future studies to bridge between layer- and cell type-specific analyses.

Keywords: axon; barrel cortex; dendrite; soma; whisker touch.

Publication types

  • Review