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Very-long-range disynaptic V1 connections through layer 6 pyramidal neurons revealed by transneuronal tracing with rabies virus.

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Neurons in primary visual cortex (V1) integrate across the representation of the visual field through networks of long-range projecting pyramidal neurons. These projections, which originate from within V1 and through feedback from higher visual areas, are likely to play a key role in such visual processes as low contrast facilitation and extraclassical surround suppression. The extent of the visual field representation covered by feedback is generally much larger than that covered through monosynaptic horizontal connections within V1, and, although it may be possible that multisynaptic horizontal connections across V1 could also lead to more widespread spatial integration, nothing is known regarding such circuits. In this study, we used injections of the CVS-11 strain of rabies virus to examine disynaptic long-range horizontal connections within macaque monkey V1. Injections were made around the representation of 5° eccentricity in the lower visual field. Along the opercular surface of V1, we found that the majority of connected neurons extended up to 8 mm in most layers, consistent with twice the typically reported distances of monosynaptic connections. In addition, mainly in layer 6, a steady presence of connected neurons within V1 was observed up to 16 mm away. A relatively high percentage of these connected neurons had large-diameter somata characteristic of Meynert cells, which are known to project as far as 8 mm individually. Several neurons, predominantly in layer 6, were also found deep within the calcarine sulcus, reaching as far as 20° of eccentricity, based on estimates, and extending well into the upper visual field representation. Thus, our anatomical results provide evidence for a wide-ranging disynaptic circuit within V1, mediated largely through layer 6, that accounts for integration across a large region of the visual field.

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