Spatially reciprocal inhibition of inhibition within a stimulus selection network in the avian midbrain

C. Alex Goddard, Shreesh P. Mysore, Astra S. Bryant, John R. Huguenard, Eric I. Knudsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reciprocal inhibition between inhibitory projection neurons has been proposed as the most efficient circuit motif to achieve the flexible selection of one stimulus among competing alternatives. However, whether such a motif exists in networks that mediate selection is unclear. Here, we study the connectivity within the nucleus isthmi pars magnocellularis (Imc), a GABAergic nucleus that mediates competitive selection in the midbrain stimulus selection network. Using laser photostimulation of caged glutamate, we find that feedback inhibitory connectivity is global within the Imc. Unlike typical lateral inhibition in other circuits, intra-Imc inhibition remains functionally powerful over long distances. Anatomically, we observed long-range axonal projections and retrograde somatic labeling from focal injections of bi-directional tracers in the Imc, consistent with spatial reciprocity of intra-Imc inhibition. Together, the data indicate that spatially reciprocal inhibition of inhibition occurs throughout the Imc. Thus, the midbrain selection circuit possesses the most efficient circuit motif possible for fast, reliable, and flexible selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere85865
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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