Diversity of Cortical Functions Is Provided by Inhibition
In addition to principal cells, the cerebral cortex contains diverse classes of interneurons that selectively and discriminately innervate various parts of principal cells and each other. The hypothesized “goal” of the daunting connectionist schemes of interneurons is to provide maximum functional complexity. Without inhibition and dedicated interneurons, excitatory circuits cannot accomplish anything useful. Interneurons provide autonomy and independence to neighboring principal cells but at the same time also offer useful temporal coordination. The functional diversity of principal cells is enhanced by the domain-specific actions of GABAergic interneurons, which can dynamically alter the qualities of the principal cells. The balance between excitation and inhibition is often accomplished by oscillations. Connections among interneurons, including electrical gap junctions, are especially suitable for maintaining clocking actions. Thus, the cerebral cortex is not only a complex system with complicated interactions among identical constituents but also has developed a diverse system of components.
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