High-frequency burst spiking in layer 5 thick-tufted pyramids of rat primary somatosensory cortex encodes exploratory touch

Christiaan P.J. de Kock*, Jean Pie, Anton W. Pieneman, Rebecca A. Mease, Arco Bast, Jason M. Guest, Marcel Oberlaender, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Bert Sakmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Diversity of cell-types that collectively shape the cortical microcircuit ensures the necessary computational richness to orchestrate a wide variety of behaviors. The information content embedded in spiking activity of identified cell-types remain unclear to a large extent. Here, we recorded spike responses upon whisker touch of anatomically identified excitatory cell-types in primary somatosensory cortex in naive, untrained rats. We find major differences across layers and cell-types. The temporal structure of spontaneous spiking contains high-frequency bursts (≥100 Hz) in all morphological cell-types but a significant increase upon whisker touch is restricted to layer L5 thick-tufted pyramids (L5tts) and thus provides a distinct neurophysiological signature. We find that whisker touch can also be decoded from L5tt bursting, but not from other cell-types. We observed high-frequency bursts in L5tts projecting to different subcortical regions, including thalamus, midbrain and brainstem. We conclude that bursts in L5tts allow accurate coding and decoding of exploratory whisker touch.

Original languageEnglish
Article number709
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Cyriel Pennartz for scientific discussions, Keerthi K. Doreswamy for analysis support during early stages of this study and Romy Aardse for contributing Neurolucida reconstructions. Funding was provided from the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research, the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (VU Amsterdam), the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement 633428; to M.O.), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (grants BMBF/ FKZ 01GQ1002 and 01IS18052; to M.O.), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 1089; to M.O. and SFB 1158 to R.M.), the Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation (R.M.), the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and Art (Brigitte-Schlieben-Lange Program; to R.M.) and the Amsterdam Brain and Mind Project (to C.P.J. de K.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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