Inhibition shapes response selectivity in the inferior colliculus by gain modulation
Gittelman, Joshua X.
Colburn, H. S.
Pollak, George D.
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Citation (published version)Joshua X Gittelman, Le Wang, HS Colburn, George D Pollak. 2012. "Inhibition shapes response selectivity in the inferior colliculus by gain modulation.." Front Neural Circuits, v. 6
Pharmacological block of inhibition is often used to determine if inhibition contributes to spike selectivity, in which a preferred stimulus evokes more spikes than a null stimulus. When inhibitory block reduces spike selectivity, a common interpretation is that differences between the preferred- and null-evoked inhibitions created the selectivity from less-selective excitatory inputs. In models based on empirical properties of cells from the inferior colliculus (IC) of awake bats, we show that inhibitory differences are not required. Instead, inhibition can enhance spike selectivity by changing the gain, the ratio of output spikes to input current. Within the model, we made preferred stimuli that evoked more spikes than null stimuli using five distinct synaptic mechanisms. In two cases, synaptic selectivity (the differences between the preferred and null inputs) was entirely excitatory, and in two it was entirely inhibitory. In each case, blocking inhibition eliminated spike selectivity. Thus, observing spike rates following inhibitory block did not distinguish among the cases where synaptic selectivity was entirely excitatory or inhibitory. We then did the same modeling experiment using empirical synaptic conductances derived from responses to preferred and null sounds. In most cases, inhibition in the model enhanced spike selectivity mainly by gain modulation and firing rate reduction. Sometimes, inhibition reduced the null gain to zero, eliminating null-evoked spikes. In some cases, inhibition increased the preferred gain more than the null gain, enhancing the difference between the preferred- and null-evoked spikes. Finally, inhibition kept firing rates low. When selectivity is quantified by the selectivity index (SI, the ratio of the difference to the sum of the spikes evoked by the preferred and null stimuli), inhibitory block reduced the SI by increasing overall firing rates. These results are consistent with inhibition shaping spike selectivity by gain control.
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