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Although neocortical connectivity is remarkably stereotyped, the abundance of some wiring motifs varies greatly between cortical areas. To examine if regional wiring differences represent functional adaptations, we have used optogenetic raster stimulation to map the laminar distribution of GABAergic interneurons providing inhibition to pyramidal cells in layer 2/3 (L2/3) of adult mouse barrel cortex during sensory deprivation and recovery. Whisker trimming caused large, motif-specific changes in inhibitory synaptic connectivity: ascending inhibition from deep layers 4 and 5 was attenuated to 20%-45% of baseline, whereas inhibition from superficial layers remained stable (L2/3) or increased moderately (L1). The principal mechanism of deprivation-induced plasticity was motif-specific changes in inhibitory-to-excitatory connection probabilities; the strengths of extant connections were left unaltered. Whisker regrowth restored the original balance of inhibition from deep and superficial layers. Targeted, reversible modifications of specific inhibitory wiring motifs thus contribute to the adaptive remodeling of cortical circuits.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS Biol

Publication Date





Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Channelrhodopsins, GABAergic Neurons, In Vitro Techniques, Interneurons, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Neocortex, Nerve Net, Neuronal Plasticity, Organ Specificity, Sensory Deprivation, Synapses, Touch Perception, Vibrissae