Editor's Summary

10 March 2011

Untangling neural nets in the visual system


Connectivity forms the basis of functional computations performed by neural circuits, but it is notoriously difficult to follow the complex structural wiring between neurons to the function of individual cells. Now, using a combination of functional imaging and three-dimensional serial electron-microscopic reconstruction at an unprecedented scale, two groups present detailed representations of the connectivity of single cells in the mouse visual system. Davi Bock et al. in Clay Reid's lab investigate connectivity in the primary visual cortex, and find that inhibitory neurons receive input from excitatory cells with widely varying functions, consistent with predictions from recent physiological studies of the mouse cortex. Kevin Briggman, Moritz Helmstaedter and Winfried Denk show that direction-selective ganglion cells receive more synapses from a starburst amacrine cell dendrite if their preferred directions are opposites, suggesting that the directional sensitivity of retinal ganglion cells arises from the asymmetry in their wiring with amacrine cells.

News & ViewsNeuroscience: Towards functional connectomics

To understand the brain, the thousands of synaptic connections made by each of billions of neurons should be mapped and related to neuronal function. First steps towards this formidable goal are now reported. See Articlesp.177 & p.183

H. Sebastian Seung

doi:10.1038/471170a

ArticleNetwork anatomy and in vivo physiology of visual cortical neurons

Davi D. Bock, Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Aaron M. Kerlin, Mark L. Andermann, Greg Hood, Arthur W. Wetzel, Sergey Yurgenson, Edward R. Soucy, Hyon Suk Kim & R. Clay Reid

doi:10.1038/nature09802

ArticleWiring specificity in the direction-selectivity circuit of the retina

Kevin L. Briggman, Moritz Helmstaedter & Winfried Denk

doi:10.1038/nature09818