Modulating excitation through plasticity at inhibitory synapses

Front Cell Neurosci. 2014 Mar 28;8:93. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2014.00093. eCollection 2014.


Learning is believed to depend on lasting changes in synaptic efficacy such as long-term potentiation and long-term depression. As a result, a profusion of studies has tried to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these forms of plasticity. Traditionally, experience-dependent changes at excitatory synapses were assumed to underlie learning and memory formation. However, with the relatively more recent investigation of inhibitory transmission, it had become evident that inhibitory synapses are not only plastic, but also provide an additional way to modulate excitatory transmission and the induction of plasticity at excitatory synapses. Thanks to recent technological advances, progress has been made in understanding synaptic transmission and plasticity from particular interneuron subtypes. In this review article, we will describe various forms of synaptic plasticity that have been ascribed to two fairly well characterized populations of interneurons in the hippocampus, those expressing cholecystokinin (CCK) and parvalbumin (PV). We will discuss the resulting changes in the strength and plasticity of excitatory transmission that occur in the local circuit as a result of the modulation of inhibitory transmission. We will focus on the hippocampus because this region has a relatively well-understood circuitry, numerous forms of activity-dependent plasticity and a multitude of identified interneuron subclasses.

Keywords: CCK+; PV+; hippocampus; inhibition; plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review