Current concepts of cortical information processing and most cortical network models largely rest on the assumption that well-studied properties of local synaptic connectivity are sufficient to understand the generic properties of cortical networks. This view seems to be justified by the observation that the vertical connectivity within local volumes is strong, whereas horizontally, the connection probability between pairs of neurons drops sharply with distance. Recent neuroanatomical studies, however, have emphasized that a substantial fraction of synapses onto neocortical pyramidal neurons stems from cells outside the local volume. Here, we discuss recent findings on the signal integration from horizontal inputs, showing that they could serve as a substrate for reliable and temporally precise signal propagation. Quantification of connection probabilities and parameters of synaptic physiology as a function of lateral distance indicates that horizontal projections constitute a considerable fraction, if not the majority, of inputs from within the cortical network. Taking these non-local horizontal inputs into account may dramatically change our current view on cortical information processing. © 2011 Boucsein, Nawrot, Schnepel and Aertsen.
Boucsein, C., Nawrot, M. P., Schnepel, P., & Aertsen, A. (2011). Beyond the cortical column: Abundance and physiology of horizontal connections imply a strong role for inputs from the surround. Frontiers in Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2011.00032