The neocortex is functionally organized into layers. Layer four receives the densest bottom up sensory inputs, while layers 2/3 and 5 receive top down inputs that may convey predictive information. A subset of cortical somatostatin (SST) neurons, the Martinotti cells, gate top down input by inhibiting the apical dendrites of pyramidal cells in layers 2/3 and 5, but it is unknown whether an analogous inhibitory mechanism controls activity in layer 4. Using high precision circuit mapping, in vivo optogenetic perturbations, and single cell transcriptional profiling, we reveal complementary circuits in the mouse barrel cortex involving genetically distinct SST subtypes that specifically and reciprocally interconnect with excitatory cells in different layers: Martinotti cells connect with layers 2/3 and 5, whereas non-Martinotti cells connect with layer 4. By enforcing layer-specific inhibition, these parallel SST subnetworks could independently regulate the balance between bottom up and top down input.
Keywords: inhibition; mouse; neocortex; neuroscience; somatostatin.
© 2019, Naka et al.