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Prenatal activity from thalamic neurons governs the emergence of functional cortical maps in mice.

Noelia Antón-Bolaños, Alejandro Sempere-Ferràndez, Teresa Guillamón-Vivancos, Francisco J. Martini, Leticia Pérez-Saiz, Henrik Gezelius, Anton Filipchuk, Miguel Valdeolmillos, Guillermina López-Bendito.

Published: 2019 May 2
N. Antón-Bolaños et al., Science 10.1126/science.aav7617 (2019)

Press Release CSIC (spanish)

The mammalian brain’s somatosensory cortex is a topographic map of the body’s sensory experience. In mice, cortical barrels reflect whisker input. We asked whether these cortical structures require sensory input to develop or are driven by intrinsic activity. Indeed, thalamocortical columns, connecting thalamus to cortex, emerge before sensory input and concur with calcium waves in the embryonic thalamus. We show here that the columnar organization of the thalamocortical somatotopic map exists in the mouse embryo before sensory input, thus linking spontaneous embryonic thalamic activity to somatosensory map formation. Without thalamic calcium waves, cortical circuits become hyperexcitable, columnar and barrel organization do not emerge, and the somatosensory map lacks anatomical and functional structure. Thus, a self-organized protomap in the embryonic thalamus drives functional assembly of murine thalamocortical sensory circuits.

From left to right: Leticia Pérez-Saiz, Francisco J. Martini, Guillermina López-Bendito, Miguel Valdeolmillos, Teresa Guillamón-Vivancos.

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