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  Beyond the cortical column: Cellular structural organization principles in rat vibrissal cortex

Egger, R., Meyer, H., Reissl, S., Narayanan, R., Foerster, R., De Kock, C., et al. (2012). Beyond the cortical column: Cellular structural organization principles in rat vibrissal cortex. Poster presented at 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2012), New Orleans, LA, USA.

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Egger, R1, Author           
Meyer, HS, Author
Reissl, S, Author
Narayanan, RT, Author           
Foerster, R, Author
De Kock, CPJ, Author
Sakmann, B, Author
Oberlaender, M1, Author           
Affiliations:
1Digital Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Florida Inst., Jupiter, FL, ou_persistent22              

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 Abstract: We present a high-resolution model of the 3D structure and cellular composition of the rat thalamo-cortical vibrissal system. Despite the fact that the vibrissal system is widely used in neuroscience research, effects of its 3D structure on connectivity and function are often overlooked. A realistic anatomical model of network connectivity has to take these parameters into account. To do so, we automatically reconstruct anatomical landmarks in 3D from high-resolution microscope images. Surprisingly, we find that the anatomical structures vary significantly across the barrel field. For example, the column volume increases three-fold between different columns. In contrast, the overall 3D layout remains remarkably preserved across animals. This allows creating a standardized 3D model of the layout of barrel cortex. To determine whether the cellular composition of the vibrissal system is affected by these geometric differences, we automatically count all neuron somata in confocal image stacks of vibrissal cortex and thalamus. The number of neurons in a column varies from 9300 to 29000 across the vibrissal cortex. In contrast, the density of neurons and inhibitory interneurons is similar in all columns (81,000 and 8,000 per cubic mm, respectively). The number of neurons in a barreloid varies from 90 to 400 across VPM, but correlates with the number of cells in the corresponding column. Further, because the number of neurons in individual columns is preserved between different animals, registration of individual 3D neuron distributions to the standardized 3D barrel cortex allows creating an average 3D neuron distribution. These results show that despite large differences between different columns and barreloids, the 3D layout and cellular composition of individual columns and barreloids is well-preserved across animals. This allows creating a standardized 3D model of the geometry and cellular composition of the vibrissal system. Further, these results indicate that a cortical column may not be the elementary functional unit of mammalian cortices, as is commonly believed.

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 Dates: 2012-10
 Publication Status: Published in print
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Title: 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2012)
Place of Event: New Orleans, LA, USA
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Title: 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2012)
Source Genre: Proceedings
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: 84.03 Start / End Page: - Identifier: -