Sound-driven synaptic inhibition in primary visual cortex

Giuliano Iurilli, Diego Ghezzi, Umberto Olcese, Glenda Lassi, Cristiano Nazzaro, Raffaella Tonini, Valter Tucci, Fabio Benfenati, Paolo Medini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


Multimodal objects and events activate many sensory cortical areas simultaneously. This is possibly reflected in reciprocal modulations of neuronal activity, even at the level of primary cortical areas. However, the synaptic character of these interareal interactions, and their impact on synaptic and behavioral sensory responses are unclear. Here, we found that activation of auditory cortex by a noise burst drove local GABAergic inhibition on supragranular pyramids of the mouse primary visual cortex, via cortico-cortical connections. This inhibition was generated by sound-driven excitation of a limited number of cells in infragranular visual cortical neurons. Consequently, visually driven synaptic and spike responses were reduced upon bimodal stimulation. Also, acoustic stimulation suppressed conditioned behavioral responses to a dim flash, an effect that was prevented by acute blockade of GABAergic transmission in visual cortex. Thus, auditory cortex activation by salient stimuli degrades potentially distracting sensory processing in visual cortex by recruiting local, translaminar, inhibitory circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-28
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2012


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • GABA Antagonists
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Neurons
  • Phosphinic Acids
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Picrotoxin
  • Propanolamines
  • Psychophysics
  • Rhodopsin
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Visual Cortex
  • Wakefulness
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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