Cutting-edge neuroscience: dissecting the mouse prefrontal cortex


The world of neuroscience is evolving every day, and new technologies to unravel the mysteries hidden in our brains are emerging one after another. In this article, we will introduce an innovative study focusing on the mouse prefrontal cortex, explaining in detail its results and significance.

This study can be found here.

Spatial transcriptomics reveals the distinct organization of mouse prefrontal cortex and neuronal subtypes regulating chronic pain - Nature Neuroscience
Spatial transcriptomics reveals distinct composition and organization of cells and circuits in the mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) relative to adjacent cortices, ...

This study has advanced our understanding of the brain’s function and diseases by identifying the types and subtypes of cells and revealing their spatial organization. Let’s take a closer look.

Background and Purpose of the Study

The Complex Network of the Brain and the Importance of the Prefrontal Cortex

The human brain is composed of approximately 86 billion neurons, intricately connected to form countless networks. These networks govern every aspect of our daily lives, including thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), in particular, plays a central role in shaping our actions and personality, being responsible for advanced cognitive functions such as decision-making, emotional regulation, and memory. However, due to its complex structure and functions, the detailed mechanisms of the PFC have not yet been fully elucidated.

Objectives and Expected Outcomes of the Study

The main objective of this study is to identify the types and subtypes of cells in the PFC of mice, and to elucidate how they are spatially organized, using transcriptome analysis and advanced imaging techniques. By extracting detailed information at the cellular level, the study aims to clarify the relationship between the function and structure of the PFC.

The expected outcomes of this study are diverse. Firstly, it will enable comprehensive mapping of cell types and subtypes in the PFC, deepening our understanding of brain function and diseases. Additionally, abnormalities in neural circuits and functions associated with specific cell types may contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, and this study is expected to contribute to the development of new treatments. Furthermore, the insights gained from this study can be applied to other regions of the brain and other species, contributing to the overall development of the field of neuroscience.

Research Methods and Techniques Used

Transcriptome Analysis and Its Importance

Transcriptome analysis is a powerful technique that simultaneously analyzes all RNA within a cell, revealing patterns of gene expression. This method allows us to understand the identity, state, and other biological characteristics of cells. In this study, transcriptome analysis was utilized to precisely classify the types and subtypes of cells present in the mouse prefrontal cortex, laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of brain function and disease mechanisms.

Comparison and Rationale for Choosing MERFISH and Visium

MERFISH (Multiplexed Error-Robust Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization) and Visium by 10x Genomics are both advanced technologies that enable spatial transcriptome analysis. MERFISH offers high spatial resolution, allowing for gene expression analysis at the single-cell level. On the other hand, Visium can cover a broader area of the sample as a whole, but has lower spatial resolution compared to MERFISH. In this study, MERFISH was chosen for its high spatial resolution, as the goal was to precisely classify cell types and subtypes and elucidate their spatial organization.

Key Findings of the Research

Identification of Cell Types and Subtypes

In this groundbreaking study, cell types and subtypes present in the mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) were precisely identified. Using advanced transcriptome analysis, gene expression profiles for each cell were investigated in detail, revealing the unique characteristics of each cell. As a result, a variety of neurons and glial cells in the PFC were identified, shedding light on the functional roles of each cell subtype.

Specific Functions of Subregions

The PFC is divided into multiple subregions, each serving different functions. This study revealed that cell distribution varies across these subregions. For example, in the dorsolateral anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), L5 IT 3 neurons are predominantly found, suggesting their potential involvement in specific behavioral regulations. In the prelimbic cortex (PL), L5 ET 1 neurons are abundant, contributing to the functions of both PL and the infralimbic cortex (ILA). These findings are crucial for understanding the specific functions of PFC subregions and their association with different cell types.

Interactions Between Cells and Their Implications

Identifying cell types and subtypes has also deepened our understanding of how cells interact and transmit information within the brain. Networks and interactions between cells are essential for maintaining normal brain function, and this study has elucidated these complex relationships. This provides clues on how abnormalities in neural circuits may contribute to neurological diseases and cognitive disorders, potentially contributing to the development of new treatments in the future.

Limits of the Study and Future Prospects

Limitations of the Study and Ways to Overcome Them

Despite the innovative nature of this study, there are some limitations. First, the samples used were limited to the mouse prefrontal cortex, and other species, including humans, and other brain regions were not examined. This necessitates caution when generalizing the findings. Additionally, while the techniques used generate a large amount of data and require specialized knowledge and resources for analysis, the interactions and dynamics of cellular networks are not fully elucidated, necessitating further research to understand their involvement in disease onset and progression.

To overcome these limitations, additional research targeting different species and brain regions is needed, along with the development of tools and algorithms for data analysis. Collecting time-course data and combining with other imaging techniques may be effective for understanding the interactions and dynamics of cellular networks.

Expectations and Potential for Future Research

This study has opened new horizons in neuroscience by identifying cell types and subtypes in the brain and elucidating their spatial organization. Future research is expected to further analyze interactions and dynamics of cellular networks based on these findings, deepening our understanding of brain function and disease mechanisms, and contributing to the development of new treatments and preventive measures.

The techniques used in this study are also applicable to other species, brain regions, and even different tissues and organs, promising advancements in our understanding of cell types and functions across biology. Additionally, leveraging the large amount of data generated by this study and employing data analysis and machine learning techniques could contribute to the identification of new biomarkers and early diagnosis of diseases.

In summary, this study holds numerous possibilities not only in neuroscience but also in biology as a whole, and its future developments are highly anticipated.


Through this innovative study, we have gained a deeper understanding of the types and subtypes of cells in the mouse prefrontal cortex, as well as their spatial organization. This has enabled us to take a significant step forward in unraveling the complex network of the brain in the field of neuroscience.

Significance of the Study and Its Impact

The findings of this study are crucial for understanding the relationship between brain structure and function. In particular, identifying cell types and subtypes and clarifying their spatial organization enables more detailed analysis of brain function and disease mechanisms. This is expected to contribute to early diagnosis of neurological diseases and the development of new treatments.

Contribution to Science and Medicine

This study has the potential to make a significant impact not only from a basic science perspective but also in the field of medicine. A detailed classification of cells and understanding of their spatial organization contribute to the advancement of precision medicine, providing essential information for delivering optimal treatment to each individual patient.

Furthermore, the advanced techniques used in this study are applicable to other brain regions, different species, and even different tissues and organs, potentially revolutionizing the field of neuroscience. This will deepen our understanding of the brain and bring about a revolution in future medical care.

Ultimately, this study contributes to unraveling the complex network of the brain and opens new avenues for improving treatments for neurological diseases. We look forward to the future possibilities this research brings and must continue to support the advancement of neuroscience.