Tightly coupled inhibitory and excitatory functional networks in the developing primary visual cortex

Haleigh N. Mulholland, Bettina Hein, Matthias Kaschube, Gordon B. Smith

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3 Scopus citations


Intracortical inhibition plays a critical role in shaping activity patterns in the mature cortex. However, little is known about the structure of inhibition in early development prior to the onset of sensory experience, a time when spontaneous activity exhibits long-range correlations predictive of mature functional networks. Here, using calcium imaging of GABAergic neurons in the ferret visual cortex, we show that spontaneous activity in inhibitory neurons is already highly orga-nized into distributed modular networks before visual experience. Inhibitory neurons exhibit spatially modular activity with long-range correlations and precise local organization that is in quantitative agreement with excitatory networks. Furthermore, excitatory and inhibitory networks are strongly co-aligned at both millimeter and cellular scales. These results demonstrate a remarkable degree of organization in inhibitory networks early in the developing cortex, providing support for computational models of self-organizing networks and suggesting a mechanism for the emergence of distributed functional networks during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere72456
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drishti Lall, Casey Xamonthiene, Hailey Glewwe, and Matt Paruzynski for histology and surgical assistance, and members of the Smith and Kaschube labs for helpful discussions. The authors were supported by NIH R01EY030893-01 (GBS), T32 MH115886 (HM), BMBF 01GQ2002 (MK), NSF 1707398 (BH), Gatsby Charitable Foundation GAT3708 (BH), Whitehall Foundation 2018-05-57 (GBS), as well as support from NIH grants P41 EB027061 and P30 NS076408. All viral vectors used in this study were generated by the University of Minnesota Viral Vector and Cloning Core (Minneapolis, MN). This work was supported by the resources and staff at the University of Minnesota University Imaging Centers (RRID: SCR_020997).

Publisher Copyright:
‍© Mulholland et al.


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