Development of the barrels and barrel field in the somatosensory cortex of the mouse

J Comp Neurol. 1977 Feb 15;171(4):545-60. doi: 10.1002/cne.901710408.


Barrels of the PMBSF of the mouse somatosensory cortex become apparent in Nissl-stained tangential sections simultaneously, on the fourth postnatal day. At this time they are miniatures of those in the adult and are situated in the deepest sublamina of the trilaminar cortical plate. An early barrel appears as a patch of decreased cell density: the prospective hollow of the barrel. Septa become noticeable during the sixth postnatal day. From that period to adulthood, the relative contribution of the PMBSF to the total cortical surface area increases -- an increase that goes against one's expectation: the barrel related periphery matures very early and so does the central, lateral region of the cortex. Barrel growth parallel to the pial surface is greater along the major axes than along the minor axes. By using the barrels to identify prospective layer IV in immature cortex, we could determine that layers V and VI attain their adult height during the sixth postnatal day -- an age when prospective layers I-IV are only half their adult height. The onset of barrel formation coincides with the moment after which injury to the pertinent somatosensory periphery (the vibrissal papillae) no longer causes profound alterations in barrel morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / growth & development