Embryonic and postnatal development of the layer I-directed ("matrix") thalamocortical system in the rat

Maria J. Galazo, Veronica Martinez-Cerdeno, César Porrero, Francisco Clascá

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Inputs to the layer I apical dendritic tufts of pyramidal cells are crucial in "top-down" interactions in the cerebral cortex. A large population of thalamocortical cells, the "matrix" (M-type) cells, provides a direct robust input to layer I that is anatomically and functionally different from the thalamocortical input to layer VI. The developmental timecourse of M-type axons is examined here in rats aged E (embryonic day) 16 to P (postnatal day) 30. Anterograde techniques were used to label axons arising from 2 thalamic nuclei mainly made up of M-type cells, the Posterior and the Ventromedial. The primary growth cones of M-type axons rapidly reached the subplate of dorsally situated cortical areas. After this, interstitial branches would sprout from these axons under more lateral cortical regions to invade the overlying cortical plate forming secondary arbors. Moreover, retrograde labeling of M-type cell somata in the thalamus after tracer deposits confined to layer I revealed that large numbers of axons from multiple thalamic nuclei had already converged in a given spot of layer I by P3. Because of early ingrowth in such large numbers, interactions of M-type axons may significantly influence the early development of cortical circuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-363
Number of pages20
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon branching
  • Motor cortex
  • Somatosensory cortex
  • Thalamostriatal
  • VGluT2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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