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Context guides perception by influencing stimulus saliency. Accordingly, in visual cortex, responses to a stimulus are modulated by context, the visual scene surrounding the stimulus. Responses are suppressed when stimulus and surround are similar but not when they differ. The underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we use optical recordings, manipulations, and computational modeling to show that disinhibitory circuits consisting of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-expressing and somatostatin (SOM)-expressing inhibitory neurons modulate responses in mouse visual cortex depending on similarity between stimulus and surround, primarily by modulating recurrent excitation. When stimulus and surround are similar, VIP neurons are inactive, and activity of SOM neurons leads to suppression of excitatory neurons. However, when stimulus and surround differ, VIP neurons are active, inhibiting SOM neurons, which leads to relief of excitatory neurons from suppression. We have identified a canonical cortical disinhibitory circuit that contributes to contextual modulation and may regulate perceptual saliency. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Andreas J Keller, Mario Dipoppa, Morgane M Roth, Matthew S Caudill, Alessandro Ingrosso, Kenneth D Miller, Massimo Scanziani. A Disinhibitory Circuit for Contextual Modulation in Primary Visual Cortex. Neuron. 2020 Dec 23;108(6):1181-1193.e8

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PMID: 33301712

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