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Identification of two populations of corticothalamic neurons in cat primary somatosensory cortex

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Extracellular and intracellular recordings of corticothalamic (CT) cells were performed in the primary somatosensory cortex of the cat. CT neurons were antidromically activated by electrically stimulating the ventroposterior lateral (VPL) nucleus of the thalamus and were classified into two types according to their physiological properties. Type 1 had no spontaneous activity and no identifiable somatic receptive field. Type 2 fired action potentials spontaneously and responded to mechanical stimulation of the skin or underlying tissues. Axonal conduction velocities were slower for type 1 cells and their cell bodies were located slightly deeper in the cortex than those of type 2 cells. Both types of CT neurons exhibited inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in response to VPL stimulation but an early synaptic excitation and rebound discharge was observed almost exclusively in type 2 cells. These results suggest that only type 2 CT cells can modify the activity of thalamic neurons through a corticothalamic feedback loop.

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Correspondence to P. Landry.

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Landry, P., Dykes, R.W. Identification of two populations of corticothalamic neurons in cat primary somatosensory cortex. Exp Brain Res 60, 289–298 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00235923

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Key words

  • Primary somatosensory cortex
  • Corticothalamic neurons
  • VPL nucleus
  • Feedback loop