Neurons in Visual Cortex Synapse with Multiple Functional Areas

Thursday, March 29, 2018

New brain mapping technology, called MAPseq, in which hundreds or thousands of neurons may be uniquely and individually labeled with RNA sequences that are carried to the synapse (Neuron) has been used to show that neurons in the mouse brain may project to more than one functional area. Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory led by Professor Anthony Zador found that individual neurons from the visual cortex make synapses with more than one functional area and in specific patterns.  This suggests a non-linear circuitry that is a new way of thinking about neuronal connectivity.

"Our finding signals a shift away from the rather convenient idea of every neuron projecting to just one cortical area," says Kebschull. "That thinking ignores the underlying structure of the brain, and in the future, the way people do their experiments is going to change drastically."

The Zador lab has begun utilizing MAPseq to compare the brains of a mouse autism model with healthy mouse brains to see if mis-wiring occurs during development at the single-neuron level that might explain the disorder's symptoms – just one of many potential applications of the method. In addition to pathology studies, this new understanding may also influence research related to electrical brain mapping with EEG, magneto-EEG, and newer techniques of recording the activity of individual nerve cells, such as bit encoding of spike data (Neuroinform)

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