The functional role of input from the primary motor cortex (M1) to primary somatosensory cortex (S1) is unclear; one key to understanding this pathway may lie in elucidating the cell-type specific microcircuits that connect S1 and M1. Recently, we discovered that a subset of pyramidal neurons in the infragranular layers of S1 receive especially strong input from M1 (Kinnischtzke AK, Simons DJ, Fanselow EE. Cereb Cortex 24: 2237–2248, 2014), suggesting that M1 may affect specific classes of pyramidal neurons differently. Here, using combined optogenetic and retrograde labeling approaches in the mouse, we examined the strengths of M1 inputs to five classes of infragranular S1 neurons categorized by their projections to particular cortical and subcortical targets. We found that the magnitude of M1 synaptic input to S1 pyramidal neurons varies greatly depending on the projection target of the postsynaptic neuron. Of the populations examined, M1-projecting corticocortical neurons in L6 received the strongest M1 inputs, whereas ventral posterior medial nucleus-projecting corticothalamic neurons, also located in L6, received the weakest. Each population also possessed distinct intrinsic properties. The results suggest that M1 differentially engages specific classes of S1 projection neurons, thereby regulating the motor-related influence S1 exerts over subcortical structures.
- barrel cortex
- sensorimotor integration
- cortical circuitry
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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