The success story of fast-spiking, parvalbumin-positive (PV(+)) GABAergic interneurons (GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid) in the mammalian central nervous system is noteworthy. In 1995, the properties of these interneurons were completely unknown. Twenty years later, thanks to the massive use of subcellular patch-clamp techniques, simultaneous multiple-cell recording, optogenetics, in vivo measurements, and computational approaches, our knowledge about PV(+) interneurons became more extensive than for several types of pyramidal neurons. These findings have implications beyond the "small world" of basic research on GABAergic cells. For example, the results provide a first proof of principle that neuroscientists might be able to close the gaps between the molecular, cellular, network, and behavioral levels, representing one of the main challenges at the present time. Furthermore, the results may form the basis for PV(+) interneurons as therapeutic targets for brain disease in the future. However, much needs to be learned about the basic function of these interneurons before clinical neuroscientists will be able to use PV(+) interneurons for therapeutic purposes.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.