Two-photon imaging studies in mouse primary visual cortex (V1) consistently report that around half of the neurons respond to oriented grating stimuli. However, in cats and primates, nearly all neurons respond to such stimuli. Here we show that mouse V1 responsiveness and selectivity strongly depends on neuronal depth. Moving from superficial layer 2 down to layer 4, the percentage of visually responsive neurons nearly doubled, ultimately reaching levels similar to what is seen in other species. Over this span, the amplitude of neuronal responses also doubled. Moreover, stimulus selectivity was also modulated, not only with depth but also with response amplitude. Specifically, we found that orientation and direction selectivity were greater in stronger responding neurons, but orientation selectivity decreased with depth whereas direction selectivity in-creased. Importantly, these depth-dependent trends were found not just between layer 2/3 and layer 4 but at different depths within layer 2/3 itself. Thus, neuronal depth is an important factor to consider when pooling neurons for population analyses. Furthermore, the inability to drive the majority of cells in superficial layer 2/3 of mouse V1 with grating stimuli indicates that there may be fundamental differences in the micro-circuitry and role of V1 between rodents and other mammals.
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