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Nat Neurosci. 2017 Aug 29;20(9):1199-1208. doi: 10.1038/nn.4619.

Functions and dysfunctions of neocortical inhibitory neuron subtypes.

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Neurobiology Section, Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior, and Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.
Skirball Institute, Neuroscience Institute, Departments of Otolaryngology, Neuroscience and Physiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, USA.
Johns Hopkins University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Neocortical inhibitory neurons exhibit remarkably diverse morphology, physiological properties and connectivity. Genetic access to molecularly defined subtypes of inhibitory neurons has aided their functional characterization in recent years. These studies have established that, instead of simply balancing excitatory neuron activity, inhibitory neurons actively shape excitatory circuits in a subtype-specific manner. We review the emerging view that inhibitory neuron subtypes perform context-dependent modulation of excitatory activity, as well as regulate experience-dependent plasticity of excitatory circuits. We then review the roles of neuromodulators in regulating the subtype-specific functions of inhibitory neurons. Finally, we discuss the idea that dysfunctions of inhibitory neuron subtypes may be responsible for various aspects of neurological disorders.

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