Top-down laminar organization of the excitatory network in motor cortex

Nicholas Weiler, Lydia Wood, Jianing Yu, Sara A. Solla, Gordon M.G. Shepherd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Scopus citations


Cortical layering is a hallmark of the mammalian neocortex and a major determinant of local synaptic circuit organization in sensory systems. In motor cortex, the laminar organization of cortical circuits has not been resolved, although their input-output operations are crucial for motor control. Here, we developed a general approach for estimating layer-specific connectivity in cortical circuits and applied it to mouse motor cortex. From these data we computed a laminar presynaptic → postsynaptic connectivity matrix, W post,pre, revealing a complement of stereotypic pathways dominated by layer 2 outflow to deeper layers. Network modeling predicted, and experiments with disinhibited slices confirmed, that stimuli targeting upper, but not lower, cortical layers effectively evoked network-wide events. Thus, in motor cortex, descending excitation from a preamplifier-like network of upper-layer neurons drives output neurons in lower layers. Our analysis provides a quantitative wiring-diagram framework for further investigation of the excitatory networks mediating cortical mechanisms of motor control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-366
Number of pages7
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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