Although many studies have examined the columnar organization of primary somatosensory (SI) cortex, the functional relationship among neurons in different layers remains unclear. To understand how activity is coordinated among different cortical layers, the present investigation tested the hypothesis that the initial part of a peripheral stimulus produces a serial pattern of laminar activation in SI cortex. Extracellular discharges of 334 histologically recovered neurons were recorded from the medial bank of the coronal sulcus in nine anesthetized cats during electrical or cutaneous stimulation of the distal forelimb. Mean responses during the initial 50-msec period following stimulus onset were largest in layers IIIb or IV for both types of stimulation, but laminar differences in the magnitude of onset responses were not statistically significant. Among 175 neurons with responses exceeding 0.5 spikes per stimulus, electrical Stimulation consistently produced shorter response latencies than mechanical indentation in the extragranular (II, IIIa, V, VI), but not in the middle (IIIb, IV), cortical layers. The average minimum latencies for different cortical layers ranged from 7.4 to 10.1 msec for responses to electrical stimulation and from 10.3 to 11.6 msec for responses to mechanical indentations, but these laminar differences were not statistically significant. In some experiments, neurons in different layers of a cortical column were recorded simultaneously with dual-electrode assemblies; among 37 neuron pairs in which both neurons responded with more than 0.5 spikes per stimulus, response latencies were similar, even though the neurons were separated by several hundred microns. Cross-correlation analysis of the onset responses for neurons recorded simultaneously from different layers also indicated that many cells throughout a cortical column were activated nearly simultaneously by the initial phase of a peripheral stimulus. Results from the present study are compared with previous reports examining laminar patterns of activation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems