Target-cell-specific facilitation and depression in neocortical circuits

Alex Reyes, R. Lujan, A. Rozov, N. Burnashev, P. Somogyi, B. Sakmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In neocortical circuits, repetitively active neurons evoke unitary postsynaptic potentials (PSPs) whose peak amplitudes either increase (facilitate) or decrease (depress) progressively. To examine the basis for these different synaptic responses, we made simultaneous recordings from three classes of neurons in cortical layer 2/3. We induced repetitive action potentials in pyramidal cells and recorded the evoked unitary excitatory (E)PSPs in two classes of CABAergic neurons. We observed facilitation of EPSPs in bitufted GABAergic interneurons, many of which expressed somatostatin immunoreactivity. EPSPs recorded from multipolar interneurons, however, showed depression. Some of these neurons were immunopositive for parvalbumin. Unitary inhibitory (I)PSPs evoked by repetitive stimulation of a bitufted neuron also showed a less pronounced but significant difference between the two target neurons. Facilitation and depression involve presynaptic mechanisms, and because a single neuron can express both behaviors simultaneously, we infer that local differences in the molecular structure of presynaptic nerve terminals are induced by retrograde signals from different classes of target neurons. Because bitufted and multipolar neurons both formed reciprocal inhibitory connections with pyramidal cells, the results imply that the balance of activation between two recurrent inhibitory pathways in the neocortex depends on the frequency of action potentials in pyramidal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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