Organization of local horizontal functional interactions between neurons in the inferior temporal cortex of macaque monkeys

  • Hiroshi Tamura
    Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, Suita, Japan; and
  • Yoshiya Mori
    Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, Suita, Japan; and
  • Hidekazu Kaneko
    National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan

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<jats:p> Detailed knowledge of neuronal circuitry is necessary for understanding the mechanisms underlying information processing in the brain. We investigated the organization of horizontal functional interactions in the inferior temporal cortex of macaque monkeys, which plays important roles in visual object recognition. Neuronal activity was recorded from the inferior temporal cortex using an array of eight tetrodes, with spatial separation between paired neurons up to 1.4 mm. We evaluated functional interactions on a time scale of milliseconds using cross-correlation analysis of neuronal activity of the paired neurons. Visual response properties of neurons were evaluated using responses to a set of 100 visual stimuli. Adjacent neuron pairs tended to show strong functional interactions compared with more distant neuron pairs, and neurons with similar stimulus preferences tended to show stronger functional interactions than neurons with different stimulus preferences. Thus horizontal functional interactions in the inferior temporal cortex appear to be organized according to both cortical distances and similarity in stimulus preference between neurons. Furthermore, the relationship between strength of functional interactions and similarity in stimulus preference observed in distant neuron pairs was more prominent than in adjacent pairs. The results suggest that functional circuitry is specifically organized, depending on the horizontal distances between neurons. Such specificity endows each circuit with unique functions. </jats:p>

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