Feedforward and feedback pathways interact in specific dendritic domains to enable cognitive functions such as predictive inference and learning. Based on axonal projections, hierarchically lower areas are thought to form synapses primarily on dendrites in middle cortical layers, while higher-order areas are posited to target dendrites in layer 1 and in deep layers. However, the extent to which functional synapses form in regions of axo-dendritic overlap has not been extensively studied. Here, we use viral tracing in the visual cortex of mice to map brain-wide inputs to a genetically-defined population of layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive map of input locations through subcellular optogenetic circuit mapping. We show that input pathways target distinct dendritic domains with far greater specificity than appears from their axonal branching, often deviating substantially from the canonical patterns. Common assumptions regarding the dendrite-level interaction of feedforward and feedback inputs may thus need revisiting.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience