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Nat Neurosci. 2014 May;17(5):710-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.3696. Epub 2014 Apr 6.

Parvalbumin interneurons provide grid cell-driven recurrent inhibition in the medial entorhinal cortex.

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Department of Clinical Neurobiology at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.


Grid cells in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) generate metric spatial representations. Recent attractor-network models suggest an essential role for GABAergic interneurons in the emergence of the grid-cell firing pattern through recurrent inhibition dependent on grid-cell phase. To test this hypothesis, we studied identified parvalbumin-expressing (PV(+)) interneurons that are the most likely candidate for providing this recurrent inhibition onto grid cells. Using optogenetics and tetrode recordings in mice, we found that PV(+) interneurons exhibited high firing rates, low spatial sparsity and no spatial periodicity. PV(+) interneurons inhibited all functionally defined cell types in the MEC and were in turn recruited preferentially by grid cells. To our surprise, we found that individual PV(+) interneurons received input from grid cells with various phases, which most likely accounts for the broadly tuned spatial firing activity of PV(+) interneurons. Our data argue against the notion that PV(+) interneurons provide phase-dependent recurrent inhibition and challenge recent attractor-network models of grid cells.

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