Seminar on cortical microcircuits

April 2, 2011

We had the 3rd seminar in our 3-part series this week. Hysell Ovieda gave a lecture entitled, “Cortical Microcircuits; Girls’ Brains are like Spaghetti”. The title was an allusion to a book, “Men’s Brain’s are like Waffles; Women’s Brain are like Spaghetti,” which, Hysell (and Sebastian Seung) argue, is ridiculous because everyone’s brain are “like spaghetti” in the sense that the connections between neurons are numberous and hard to identify. In any event, a high point of the lecture was that Hysell helped us connect the multiple confusing schemes that are out there for classifying inhibitory interneurons. She explained that molecular markers, like parvalbum or somatosstatin, label populations that do not correspond directly to single morphological groups: eg, basket cells. To me, this at first seemed like a big problem. The tools that are now available (cre lines, for example) for controlling specific populations of interneurons, might not be of much use if the cells they stain are mixtures of many populations of inhibitory neurons. Hysell and Tony Zador argued that this wasn’t quite right, however, because, in fact, parvalubumin labelled cells to form something of a consistent group in spite of some variations in morphology.







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