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Katzner, Steffen ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4424-2197; Busse, Laura ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6127-7754 and Carandini, Matteo (2011): GABA(A) Inhibition Controls Response Gain in Visual Cortex. In: Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 31, No. 16: pp. 5931-5941

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GABA(A) inhibition is thought to play multiple roles in sensory cortex, such as controlling responsiveness and sensitivity, sharpening selectivity, and mediating competitive interactions. To test these proposals, we recorded in cat primary visual cortex ( V1) after local iontophoresis of gabazine, the selective GABA(A) antagonist. Gabazine increased responsiveness by as much as 300%. It slightly decreased selectivity for stimulus orientation and direction, often by raising responses to all orientations. Strikingly, gabazine affected neither contrast sensitivity nor cross-orientation suppression, the competition seen when stimuli of different orientation are superimposed. These results were captured by a simple model in which GABA(A) inhibition has the same selectivity as excitation and keeps responses to unwanted stimuli below threshold. We conclude that GABA(A) inhibition in V1 helps enhance stimulus selectivity but is not responsible for competition among superimposed stimuli. It controls the sensitivity of V1 neurons by adjusting their response gain, without affecting their input gain.

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