A central tenet of neuroscience is that the precise patterns of connectivity among neurons in a given brain area underlie its function. However, assigning any aspect of perception or behavior to the wiring of local circuits has been challenging. Here, we review recent work in sensory neocortex that demonstrates the power of identifying specific cell types when investigating the functional organization of brain circuits. These studies indicate that knowing the identity of both the presynaptic and postsynaptic cell type is key when analyzing neocortical circuits. Furthermore, identifying the circuit organization of particular cell types in the neocortex allows the recording and manipulation of each cell type's activity and the direct testing of its functional role in perception and behavior.
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