Segregated Excitatory-Inhibitory Recurrent Subnetworks in Layer 5 of the Rat Frontal Cortex

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A prominent feature of neocortical pyramidal cells (PCs) is their numerous projections to diverse brain areas. In layer 5 (L5) of the rat frontal cortex, there are 2 major subtypes of PCs that differ in their long-range axonal projections, corticopontine (CPn) cells and crossed corticostriatal (CCS) cells. The outputs of these L5 PCs can be regulated by feedback inhibition from neighboring cortical GABAergic cells. Two major subtypes of GABAergic cells are parvalbumin (PV)-positive and somatostatin (SOM)-positive cells. PV cells have a fast-spiking (FS) firing pattern, while SOM cells have a low threshold spike (LTS) and regular spiking. In this study, we found that the 2 PC subtypes in L5 selectively make recurrent connections with LTS cells. The connection patterns correlated with the morphological and physiological diversity of LTS cells. LTS cells with high input resistance (Ri) exhibited more compact dendrites and more rebound spikes than LTS cells with low Ri, which had vertically elongated dendrites. LTS subgroups differently inhibited the PC subtypes, although FS cells made nonselective connections with both projection subtypes. These results demonstrate a novel recurrent network of inhibitory and projection-specific excitatory neurons within the neocortex.

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