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Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Nov 19;7:183. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00183. eCollection 2013.

Gain control of γ frequency activation by a novel feed forward disinhibitory loop: implications for normal and epileptic neural activity.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario London, ON, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Front Neural Circuits. 2014;8:70.


The inhibition of excitatory (pyramidal) neurons directly dampens their activity resulting in a suppression of neural network output. The inhibition of inhibitory cells is more complex. Inhibitory drive is known to gate neural network synchrony, but there is also a widely held view that it may augment excitability by reducing inhibitory cell activity, a process termed disinhibition. Surprisingly, however, disinhibition has never been demonstrated to be an important mechanism that augments or drives the activity of excitatory neurons in a functioning neural circuit. Using voltage sensitive dye imaging (VSDI) we show that 20-80 Hz stimulus trains, β-γ activation, of the olfactory cortex pyramidal cells in layer II leads to a subsequent reduction in inhibitory interneuron activity that augments the efficacy of the initial stimulus. This disinhibition occurs with a lag of about 150-250 ms after the initial excitation of the layer 2 pyramidal cell layer. In addition, activation of the endopiriform nucleus also arises just before the disinhibitory phase with a lag of about 40-80 ms. Preventing the spread of action potentials from layer II stopped the excitation of the endopiriform nucleus, abolished the disinhibitory activity, and reduced the excitation of layer II cells. After the induction of experimental epilepsy the disinhibition was more intense with a concomitant increase in excitatory cell activity. Our observations provide the first evidence of feed forward disinhibition loop that augments excitatory neurotransmission, a mechanism that could play an important role in the development of epileptic seizures.


disinhibition; endopiriform cortex; epilepsy; interneuron; olfactory cortex; piriform cortex

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