Prof. Dr. Staiger (D)
Prof. Dr. Jochen
Three-dimensional analysis and quantification of dye-labeled cortical neurons by Neurolucida
In this proposal for a Research Unit on Barrel Cortical Function, a central topic of essentially all subprojects is the circuitry formed by excitatory or inhibitory neocortical neurons and its relationship with the cortical processing of sensory information. Such structure-function-relationship studies are especially promising in the barrel cortex of rodents since only in this cortical area, due to the barrels as a structural correlate of a functional column, the template onto which to relate (and reasonably combine) a set of results from different groups and experiments exists. For any comprehensive understanding of the cortical column as a basic unit of function, the constraints imposed on that module by the extension of the dendrites in terms of the input connectivity as well as the precise ramification of the axon for the efferent connectivity has to be known for the individual neuron. In order to build computer-based neuronal models with which to simulate the function of columnar ensembles, the morphological properties have to be acquired in a quantitative manner. Since the processing of sensory input will be profoundly influenced by the actual orientation of the neuronal processes with respect to the columnar borders, a three-dimensional analysis will be crucial. This Central Project provides a technology platform and also competence center which will be essential for all subprojects dealing with the analysis of single neurons which during the course of the physiological experiments had been dye-labeled (Projects 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8).