VIP+ interneurons control neocortical activity across brain states

Jesse Jackson*, Inbal Ayzenshtat, Mahesh M. Karnani, Rafael Yuste

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


GABAergic interneurons are positioned to powerfully influence the dynamics of neural activity, yet the interneuron-mediated circuit mechanisms that control spontaneous and evoked neocortical activity remains elusive. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP+) interneurons are a specialized cell class which synapse specifically on other interneurons, potentially serving to facilitate increases in cortical activity. In this study, using in vivo Ca2+ imaging, we describe the interaction between local network activity and VIP+ cells and determine their role in modulating neocortical activity in mouse visual cortex. VIP+ cells were active across brain states including locomotion, nonlocomotion, visual stimulation, and under anesthesia. VIP+ activity correlated most clearly with the mean level of population activity of nearby excitatory neurons during all brain states, suggesting VIP+ cells enable high-excitability states in the cortex. The pharmacogenetic blockade of VIP+ cell output reduced network activity during locomotion, nonlocomotion, anesthesia, and visual stimulation, suggesting VIP+ cells exert a state-independent facilitation of neural activity in the cortex. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that VIP+ neurons have a causal role in the generation of high-activity regimes during spontaneous and stimulus evoked neocortical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3008-3017
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • GABA
  • Interneurons
  • Neocortex
  • Network
  • Spontaneous activity


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