The claustrum, a poorly understood subcortical structure located between the cortex and the striatum, forms widespread connections with almost all cortical areas, but the cellular organization of claustral circuits remains largely unknown. Based primarily on anatomical data, it has been proposed that the claustrum integrates activity across sensory modalities. However, the extent to which the synaptic organization of claustral circuits supports this integration is unclear. Here, we used paired whole-cell recordings and optogenetic approaches in mouse brain slices to determine the cellular organization of the claustrum. We found that unitary synaptic connections among claustrocortical (ClaC) neurons were rare. In contrast, parvalbumin-positive (PV) inhibitory interneurons were highly interconnected with both chemical and electrical synapses. In addition, ClaC neurons andPVinterneurons formed frequent synaptic connections. As suggested by anatomical data, we found that corticoclaustral afferents formed monosynaptic connections onto both ClaC neurons and PV interneurons. However, the responses to cortical input were comparatively stronger in PV interneurons. Consistent with this overall circuit organization, activation of corticoclaustral afferents generated monosynaptic excitatory responses as well as disynaptic inhibitory responses in ClaC neurons. These data indicate that recurrent excitatory circuits within the claustrum alone are unlikely to integrate across multiple sensory modalities. Rather, this cellular organization is typical of circuits sensitive to correlated inputs. Although single ClaC neurons may integrate corticoclaustral input from different cortical regions, these results are consistent with more recent proposals implicating the claustrum in detecting sensory novelty or in amplifying correlated cortical inputs to coordinate the activity of functionally related cortical regions.
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