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Progress in Neurobiology
Volume 92, Issue 3, November 2010, Pages 277-292

doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2010.05.001 | How to Cite or Link Using DOI
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
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A modeler's view on the spatial structure of intrinsic horizontal connectivity in the neocortex

Nicole Vogesa, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Almut Schüzc, Ad Aertsena, b and Stefan Rottera, b

a Faculty of Biology, Albert-Ludwig University Freiburg, Germany

b Bernstein Center Freiburg, Germany

c Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany

Received 23 July 2009; 
revised 10 April 2010; 
accepted 27 May 2010. 
Available online 4 June 2010.


Most current computational models of neocortical networks assume a homogeneous and isotropic arrangement of local synaptic couplings between neurons. Sparse, recurrent connectivity is typically implemented with simple statistical wiring rules. For spatially extended networks, however, such random graph models are inadequate because they ignore the traits of neuron geometry, most notably various distance dependent features of horizontal connectivity. It is to be expected that such non-random structural attributes have a great impact, both on the spatio-temporal activity dynamics and on the biological function of neocortical networks. Here we review the neuroanatomical literature describing long-range horizontal connectivity in the neocortex over distances of up to eight millimeters, in various cortical areas and mammalian species. We extract the main common features from these data to allow for improved models of large-scale cortical networks. Such models include, next to short-range neighborhood coupling, also long-range patchy connections.

We show that despite the large variability in published neuroanatomical data it is reasonable to design a generic model which generalizes over different cortical areas and mammalian species. Later on, we critically discuss this generalization, and we describe some examples of how to specify the model in order to adapt it to specific properties of particular cortical areas or species.

Keywords: Cortical network; Distant synapses; Patchy projections

Article Outline

A model of horizontal cortical connectivity
2.1. Working assumptions
2.2. The generalized computational network model
Neuroanatomical basis of the model
3.1. Local connections
3.2. Intrinsic horizontal distant connections
3.2.1. Are patches a general feature of cortex?
3.2.2. Functional aspects of patchy projections
3.2.3. Some remarks on experimental methods: extra- vs. intracellular data
3.2.4. Quantitative data on patches Size of the patches Lateral distance from a patch to the cell body Number of patches
3.2.5. Overlapping patches of adjacent neurons
Validity and specifications of the generalized model
4.1. Cortical hierarchy and patches
4.2. Model validity with respect to different species
5.1. Basic spatial settings and local connections
5.2. Patches and single-cell data
5.3. Patches and group data
5.4. What we did not include

Corresponding Author Contact InformationCorresponding author at: INSERM U751 – Université Aix-Marseille, Faculté de Médecine La Timone, 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 05, France. Tel.: +33 491 29 98 13; fax: +33 491 78 99 14.

Progress in Neurobiology
Volume 92, Issue 3, November 2010, Pages 277-292