Final Report Summary - COGOPTO (The role of parvalbumin interneurons in cognition and behavior)
In the project we have investigated the role of a specific type of neuron in cognition. This neurons type, distinguished by expression of the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV), release the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and can be found throughout the cerebral cortex (the outermost part of the brain). We have focused on the prefrontal cortex, part of the frontal lobe and considered essential to cognition and higher mental brain processing. Using studies in mice we could demonstrate that during tasks demanding attention the activity of prefrontal PV neurons differs, with the activity being higher during successful attentional processing resulting in successful execution of a task. We could also show that the activity on a larger scale in the prefrontal network, so called local field potential activity, varies during attentional processing, with activity in the gamma range (30-40 Hz) being increased during successful attention. This replicates findings in humans and non-human primates. Further, using the technology to manipulate the activity of prefrontal PV neurons in behaving mice, we could modulate attention and performance in a task demanding attention. Most modulations caused deficicies in attention, but we also identified that when prefrontal PV neurons are activated at gamma frequencies, attentions and behaviour improved, although the animals already could perform the task very well. This demonstrates that it is possible to improve cognition by targeting specific, selected neuronal celltypes.