Galloni AR - Ye Z - Rancz E


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience


Feedforward and feedback pathways interact in specific dendritic domains to enable cognitive functions such as predictive processing and learning. Based on axonal projections, hierarchically lower areas are thought to form synapses primarily on dendrites in middle cortical layers, whereas higher-order areas are thought to target dendrites in layer 1 and in deep layers. However, the extent to which functional synapses form in regions of axodendritic overlap has not been extensively studied. Here, we use viral tracing in the secondary visual cortex of male mice to map brain-wide inputs to thick-tufted layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive map of input locations through subcellular optogenetic circuit mapping. We show that input pathways target distinct dendritic domains with far greater specificity than appears from their axonal branching, often deviating substantially from the canonical patterns. Common assumptions regarding the dendrite-level interaction of feedforward and feedback inputs may thus need revisiting. Perception and learning depend on the ability of the brain to shape neuronal representations across all processing stages. Long-range connections across different hierarchical levels enable diverse sources of contextual information, such as predictions or motivational state, to modify feedforward signals. Assumptions regarding the organization of this hierarchical connectivity have not been extensively verified. Here, we assess the synaptic connectivity of brain-wide projections onto pyramidal neurons in the visual cortex of mice. Using trans-synaptic viral tracing and subcellular optogenetic circuit mapping, we show that functional synapses do not follow the consistent connectivity rule predicted by their axonal branching patterns. These findings highlight the diversity of computational strategies operating throughout cortical networks and may aid in building better artificial networks.

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