Precise synaptic connections among neurons in the neocortex generate the circuits that underlie a broad repertoire of cortical functions including perception, learning and memory, and complex problem solving. The specific patterns and properties of these synaptic connections are fundamental to the computations cortical neurons perform. How such specificity arises in cortical circuits has remained elusive. Here, we first consider the cell-type, subcellular and synaptic specificity required for generating mature patterns of cortical connectivity and responses. Next, we focus on recent progress in understanding how the synaptic connections among excitatory cortical projection neurons are established during development using the primary visual cortex of the mouse as a model.
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