Inhibitory neurons play a fundamental role in cortical computation and behavior. Recent technological advances, such as two photon imaging, targeted in vivo recording, and molecular profiling, have improved our understanding of the function and diversity of cortical interneurons, but for technical reasons most work has been directed towards inhibitory neurons in the superficial cortical layers. Here we review current knowledge specifically on layer 5 (L5) inhibitory microcircuits, which play a critical role in controlling cortical output. We focus on recent work from the well-studied rodent barrel cortex, but also draw on evidence from studies in primary visual cortex and other cortical areas. The diversity of both deep inhibitory neurons and their pyramidal cell targets make this a challenging but essential area of study in cortical computation and sensory processing.
Keywords: barrel cortex; inhibition; inhibitory microcircuits; interneuron; layer 5; neocortex; sensory cortex.