Abstract

Anatomical studies have shown that the majority of callosal axons are glutamatergic. However, a small proportion of callosal axons are also immunoreactive for glutamic acid decarboxylase, an enzyme required for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synthesis and a specific marker for GABAergic neurons. Here, we test the hypothesis that corticocortical parvalbumin-expressing (CC-Parv) neurons connect the two hemispheres of multiple cortical areas, project through the corpus callosum, and are a functional part of the local cortical circuit. Our investigation of this hypothesis takes advantage of viral tracing and optogenetics to determine the anatomical and electrophysiological properties of CC-Parv neurons of the mouse auditory, visual, and motor cortices. We found a direct inhibitory pathway made up of parvalbumin-expressing (Parv) neurons which connects corresponding cortical areas (CC-Parv neurons → contralateral cortex). Like other Parv cortical neurons, these neurons provide local inhibition onto nearby pyramidal neurons and receive thalamocortical input. These results demonstrate a previously unknown long-range inhibitory circuit arising from a genetically defined type of GABAergic neuron that is engaged in interhemispheric communication.

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