Distinct GABAergic Targets of Feedforward and Feedback Connections between Lower and Higher Areas of Rat Visual Cortex

Yuri Gonchar, Andreas Burkhalter

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90 Scopus citations


Processing of visual information is performed in different cortical areas that are interconnected by feedforward (FF) and feedback (FB) pathways. Although FF and FB inputs are excitatory, their influences on pyramidal neurons also depend on the outputs of GABAergic neurons, which receive FF and FB inputs. Rat visual cortex contains at least three different families of GABAergic neurons that express parvalbumin (PV), calretinin (CR), and somatostatin (SOM) (Gonchar and Burkhalter, 1997). To examine whether pathway-specific inhibition (Shao and Burkhalter, 1996) is attributable to distinct connections with GABAergic neurons, we traced FF and FB inputs to PV, CR, and SOM neurons in layers 1-2/3 of area 17 and the secondary lateromedial area in rat visual cortex. We found that in layer 2/3 maximally 2% of FF and FB inputs go to CR and SOM neurons. This contrasts with 12-13% of FF and FB inputs onto layer 2/3 PV neurons. Unlike inputs to layer 2/3, connections to layer 1, which contains CR but lacks SOM and PV somata, are pathway-specific: 21% of FB inputs go to CR neurons, whereas FF inputs to layer 1 and its CR neurons are absent. These findings suggest that FF and FB influences on layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons mainly involve disynaptic connections via PV neurons that control the spike outputs to axons and proximal dendrites. Unlike FF input, FB input in addition makes a disynaptic link via CR neurons, which may influence the excitability of distal pyramidal cell dendrites in layer 1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10904-10912
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
StatePublished - Nov 26 2003


  • Calretinin
  • Connection
  • Cortex
  • GABAergic
  • Somatostatin
  • Visual


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