A fundamental issue in cortical processing of sensory information is whether top-down control circuits from higher brain areas to primary sensory areas not only modulate but actively engage in perception. Here, we report the identification of a neural circuit for top-down control in the mouse somatosensory system. The circuit consisted of a long-range reciprocal projection between M2 secondary motor cortex and S1 primary somatosensory cortex. Invivo physiological recordings revealed that sensory stimulation induced sequential S1 to M2 followed by M2 to S1 neural activity. The top-down projection from M2 to S1 initiated dendritic spikes and persistent firing of S1 layer 5 (L5) neurons. Optogenetic inhibition of M2 input to S1 decreased L5 firing and the accurate perception of tactile surfaces. These findings demonstrate that recurrent input to sensory areas is essential for accurate perception and provide a physiological model for one type of top-down control circuit.
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