Parvalbumin-Positive Interneurons Regulate Cortical Sensory Plasticity in Adulthood and Development Through Shared Mechanisms

Front Neural Circuits. 2022 May 6;16:886629. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2022.886629. eCollection 2022.


Parvalbumin-positive neurons are the largest class of GABAergic, inhibitory neurons in the central nervous system. In the cortex, these fast-spiking cells provide feedforward and feedback synaptic inhibition onto a diverse set of cell types, including pyramidal cells, other inhibitory interneurons, and themselves. Cortical inhibitory networks broadly, and cortical parvalbumin-expressing interneurons (cPVins) specifically, are crucial for regulating sensory plasticity during both development and adulthood. Here we review the functional properties of cPVins that enable plasticity in the cortex of adult mammals and the influence of cPVins on sensory activity at four spatiotemporal scales. First, cPVins regulate developmental critical periods and adult plasticity through molecular and structural interactions with the extracellular matrix. Second, they activate in precise sequence following feedforward excitation to enforce strict temporal limits in response to the presentation of sensory stimuli. Third, they implement gain control to normalize sensory inputs and compress the dynamic range of output. Fourth, they synchronize broad network activity patterns in response to behavioral events and state changes. Much of the evidence for the contribution of cPVins to plasticity comes from classic models that rely on sensory deprivation methods to probe experience-dependent changes in the brain. We support investigating naturally occurring, adaptive cortical plasticity to study cPVin circuits in an ethologically relevant framework, and discuss recent insights from our work on maternal experience-induced auditory cortical plasticity.

Keywords: interneurons; parvalbumin; perineuronal nets; plasticity; sensory processing; social learning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / physiology
  • Parvalbumins* / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology


  • Parvalbumins