Cortical maps, consisting of orderly arrangements of functional columns, are a hallmark of the organization of the cerebral cortex. However, the microorganization of cortical maps at the level of single neurons is not known, mainly because of the limitations of available mapping techniques. Here, we used bulk loading of Ca2+ indicators combined with two-photon microscopy to image the activity of multiple single neurons in layer (L) 2/3 of the mouse barrel cortex in vivo. We developed methods that reliably detect single action potentials in approximately half of the imaged neurons in L2/3. This allowed us to measure the spiking probability following whisker deflection and thus map the whisker selectivity for multiple neurons with known spatial relationships. At the level of neuronal populations, the whisker map varied smoothly across the surface of the cortex, within and between the barrels. However, the whisker selectivity of individual neurons recorded simultaneously differed greatly, even for nearest neighbors. Trial-to-trial correlations between pairs of neurons were high over distances spanning multiple cortical columns. Our data suggest that the response properties of individual neurons are shaped by highly specific subcolumnar circuits and the momentary intrinsic state of the neocortex. © 2007 Sato et al.
Sato, T. R., Gray, N. W., Mainen, Z. F., & Svoboda, K. (2007). The functional microarchitecture of the mouse barrel cortex. PLoS Biology, 5(7), 1440–1452. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050189