- An essential component of feedback and top-down information in the cortical column arrives at layer 1 (L1) where it contacts distal dendrites of pyramidal neurons. Although much is known about the anatomical organization of L1 fibers, their contribution to sensory information processing remains to be determined. We assessed the physiological significance of L1 inputs by performing extracellular recordings in vivo from neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex of rodents. We found that blocking activity in L1 increases whisker-evoked response magnitude and variance, suggesting that L1 exerts an inhibitory influence on whisker responses. However, when pairing L1 stimulation with whisker deflection, the interval between the stimuli determined the outcome of the interaction, with facilitation of sensory responses dominating the short intervals (=10 ms) and suppression prevailing at longer intervals (>10 ms). These temporal interactions resulted in a time-dependent regulation of direction tuning of cortical neurons. The synaptic mechanisms underlying L1 inputs' influences were examined using whole cell recordings in vitro while pairing L1 and white-matter stimulations. We found time-dependent, layer-specific differences in synaptic summation of the two inputs, with supralinearity at shorter intervals and sublinearity at longer intervals that resulted mainly from shunting inhibition. Taken together, our results demonstrate that L1 inputs impose a time- and layer-specific regulation on sensory-evoked responses. This in turn may lead to a dynamic transmission of sensory information in the somatosensory cortex.