Velocity of conduction between columns and layers in barrel cortex reported by parvalbumin interneurons

Cereb Cortex. 2023 Aug 23;33(17):9917-9926. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhad254.


Inhibitory interneurons expressing parvalbumin (PV) play critical roles throughout the brain. Their rapid spiking enables them to control circuit dynamics on a millisecond time scale, and the timing of their activation by different excitatory pathways is critical to these functions. We used a genetically encoded hybrid voltage sensor to image PV interneuron voltage changes with sub-millisecond precision in primary somatosensory barrel cortex (BC) of adult mice. Electrical stimulation evoked depolarizations with a latency that increased with distance from the stimulating electrode, allowing us to determine conduction velocity. Spread of responses between cortical layers yielded an interlaminar conduction velocity and spread within layers yielded intralaminar conduction velocities in different layers. Velocities ranged from 74 to 473 μm/ms depending on trajectory; interlaminar conduction was 71% faster than intralaminar conduction. Thus, computations within columns are more rapid than between columns. The BC integrates thalamic and intracortical input for functions such as texture discrimination and sensory tuning. Timing differences between intra- and interlaminar PV interneuron activation could impact these functions. Imaging of voltage in PV interneurons reveals differences in signaling dynamics within cortical circuitry. This approach offers a unique opportunity to investigate conduction in populations of axons based on their targeting specificity.

Keywords: action potential propagation velocity; axonal conduction; inhibitory interneurons; parvalbumin; somatosensory cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Interneurons* / physiology
  • Mice
  • Parvalbumins* / metabolism
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology


  • Parvalbumins