Schuman et al., The Journal of Neuroscience, 2019.
Immediately recognizable by its intricate folds and grooves, the cerebral cortex is the wrinkly, outer layer of the brain responsible for awareness, perception, and thought. Its interconnected neurons are arranged in six layers, a bit like the layers of tropical rainforests. The topmost layer, layer 1, processes and gives meaning to sensory perceptions. Recently, scientists identified four unique types of neurons residing in layer 1 — shown in this digital reconstruction of a mouse cerebral cortex — including a new type they named canopy cells (orange). The findings may bring scientists closer to understanding how the complex jungle of cortical neurons interpret sensory information.