Journal article

Brief Bursts Self-Inhibit and Correlate the Pyramidal Network

Inhibitory pathways are an essential component in the function of the neocortical microcircuitry. Despite the relatively small fraction of inhibitory neurons in the neocortex, these neurons are strongly activated due to their high connectivity rate and the intricate manner in which they interconnect with pyramidal cells (PCs). One prominent pathway is the frequency-dependent disynaptic inhibition (FDDI) formed between layer 5 PCs and mediated by Martinotti cells (MCs). Here, we show that simultaneous short bursts in four PCs are sufficient to exert FDDI in all neighboring PCs within the dimensions of a cortical column. This powerful inhibition is mediated by few interneurons, leading to strongly correlated membrane fluctuations and synchronous spiking between PCs simultaneously receiving FDDI. Somatic integration of such inhibition is independent and electrically isolated from monosynaptic excitation formed between the same PCs. FDDI is strongly shaped by I(h) in PC dendrites, which determines the effective integration time window for inhibitory and excitatory inputs. We propose a key disynaptic mechanism by which brief bursts generated by a few PCs can synchronize the activity in the pyramidal network.

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