Zuckerman Faculty Scholar Ivo Spiegel publishes recent research developments in Current Opinion in Neurobiology.
Experience-induced changes in GABAergic interneurons (INs) are thought to control the plasticity of neural circuits in the developing and adult cortex. However, it remains poorly understood how experience and the ensuing neuronal activity alter the properties and connectivity of specific IN subtypes and how these cellular changes, in turn, control the plasticity of cortical circuits. Here, I discuss recent experimental and theoretical studies that point to specific experience-induced changes in select IN subtypes as central regulators of plasticity in the cortex. In particular, I focus on the recent identification of several experience-regulated secreted molecules that modulate specific sets of synapses in IN subtypes. I argue that elucidating these molecular mechanisms will allow us to test experimentally the predictions made by theoretical models about the plasticity functions of specific IN subtypes.