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Neuron. 2003 Dec 4;40(5):991-1001.

A cellular mechanism for prepulse inhibition.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Finch University of Health Sciences, The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA.


In prepulse inhibition (PPI), startle responses to sudden, unexpected stimuli are markedly attenuated if immediately preceded by a weak stimulus of almost any modality. This experimental paradigm exposes a potent inhibitory process, present in nervous systems from invertebrates to humans, that is widely considered to play an important role in reducing distraction during the processing of sensory input. The neural mechanisms mediating PPI are of considerable interest given evidence linking PPI deficits with some of the cognitive disorders of schizophrenia. Here, in the marine mollusk Tritonia diomedea, we describe a detailed cellular mechanism for PPI--a combination of presynaptic inhibition of startle afferent neurons together with distributed postsynaptic inhibition of several downstream interneuronal sites in the startle circuit.

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