Myers-Joseph D, Wilmes KA, Fernandez-Otero M, Clopath C, Khan AG (2024) Disinhibition by VIP interneurons is orthogonal to cross-modal attentional modulation in primary visual cortex. Neuron 112: 628-645.e7

Attentional modulation of sensory processing is a key feature of cognition; however, its neural circuit basis is poorly understood. A candidate mechanism is the disinhibition of pyramidal cells through vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and somatostatin (SOM)-positive interneurons. However, the interaction of attentional modulation and VIP-SOM disinhibition has never been directly tested. We used all-optical methods to bi-directionally manipulate VIP interneuron activity as mice performed a cross-modal attention-switching task. We measured the activities of VIP, SOM, and parvalbumin (PV)-positive interneurons and pyramidal neurons identified in the same tissue and found that although activity in all cell classes was modulated by both attention and VIP manipulation, their effects were orthogonal. Attention and VIP-SOM disinhibition relied on distinct patterns of changes in activity and reorganization of interactions between inhibitory and excitatory cells. Circuit modeling revealed a precise network architecture consistent with multiplexing strong yet non-interacting modulations in the same neural population.

Pubmed: 38070500