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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1170:270-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04018.x.

Role of cortical feedback in regulating inhibitory microcircuits.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


The olfactory bulb contains an impressive array of specialized inhibitory local circuits. The most frequent inhibitory microcircuit in this brain region is the reciprocal dendrodendritic synapse formed between the lateral dendrites of mitral cells and distal dendritic spines of GABAergic granule cells. Recent work discussed in this review suggests that release of GABA from granule cell spines may reflect near-coincident activation of both mitral cell-to-granule cell synapses and proximal excitatory synapses on granule cells that originate from pyramidal cells in piriform cortex. Recent work using two-photon guided microstimulation demonstrated that proximal and distal excitatory synapses onto granule cells exhibit different forms of short-term plasticity, with feedback inputs from piriform cortex facilitating when tested with brief ( approximately 50 ms) interstimulus intervals. One consequence of this synaptic plasticity is that short duration, gamma-frequency, oscillatory discharges in piriform cortical cells evoke summating excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in granule cells that effectively trigger action potentials. Piriform cortex stimulation can gate dendrodendritic inhibition onto mitral cells, presumably through the ability of EPSP-driven action potentials in granule cells to temporarily relieve the tonic blockade of NMDA receptors by extracellular Mg(2+) ions. Feedback projections in other CNS systems also may target inhibitory neurons, such as the backprojection from CA3 pyramidal neurons to GABAergic hilar interneurons. The ability of downstream processing areas to rapidly and selectively activate inhibitory interneurons in other brain regions may provide an important mechanism to dynamically modulate biological information processing.

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