A blanket of inhibition: functional inferences from dense inhibitory connectivity

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Jun:26:96-102. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.12.015. Epub 2014 Jan 15.


The function of neocortical interneurons is still unclear, and, as often happens, one may be able to draw functional insights from considering the structure. In this spirit we describe recent structural results and discuss their potential functional implications. Most GABAergic interneurons innervate nearby pyramidal neurons very densely and without any apparent specificity, as if they were extending a 'blanket of inhibition', contacting pyramidal neurons often in an overlapping fashion. While subtypes of interneurons specifically target subcellular compartments of pyramidal cells, and they also target different layers selectively, they appear to treat all neighboring pyramidal cells the same and innervate them massively. We explore the functional implications and temporal properties of dense, overlapping inhibition by four interneuron populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Interneurons / classification*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*