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Response features of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons suggest precise roles for subtypes of inhibition in visual cortex.
Inhibitory interneurons in the cerebral cortex include a vast array of subtypes, varying in their molecular signatures, electrophysiological properties, and connectivity patterns. This diversity suggests that individual inhibitory classes have unique roles in cortical circuits; however, their characterization to date has been limited to broad classifications including many subtypes. We used the Cre/LoxP system, specifically labeling parvalbumin(PV)-expressing interneurons in visual cortex of PV-Cre mice with red fluorescent protein (RFP), followed by targeted loose-patch recordings and two-photon imaging of calcium responses in vivo to characterize the visual receptive field properties of these cells. Despite their relative molecular and morphological homogeneity, we find that PV+ neurons have a diversity of feature-specific visual responses that include sharp orientation and direction-selectivity, small receptive fields, and band-pass spatial frequency tuning. These results suggest that subsets of parvalbumin interneurons are components of specific cortical networks and that perisomatic inhibition contributes to the generation of precise response properties.