Cell-Type-Specific Activity in Prefrontal Cortex during Goal-Directed Behavior

Neuron. 2015 Jul 15;87(2):437-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.06.021. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a key role in controlling goal-directed behavior. Although a variety of task-related signals have been observed in the PFC, whether they are differentially encoded by various cell types remains unclear. Here we performed cellular-resolution microendoscopic Ca(2+) imaging from genetically defined cell types in the dorsomedial PFC of mice performing a PFC-dependent sensory discrimination task. We found that inhibitory interneurons of the same subtype were similar to each other, but different subtypes preferentially signaled different task-related events: somatostatin-positive neurons primarily signaled motor action (licking), vasoactive intestinal peptide-positive neurons responded strongly to action outcomes, whereas parvalbumin-positive neurons were less selective, responding to sensory cues, motor action, and trial outcomes. Compared to each interneuron subtype, pyramidal neurons showed much greater functional heterogeneity, and their responses varied across cortical layers. Such cell-type and laminar differences in neuronal functional properties may be crucial for local computation within the PFC microcircuit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / metabolism
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Goals*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Parvalbumins / genetics
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology*
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Somatostatin / genetics
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / genetics
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism


  • GABA Agonists
  • Parvalbumins
  • Muscimol
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Somatostatin
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium