The ins and outs of inhibitory synaptic plasticity: Neuron types, molecular mechanisms and functional roles

Marco Capogna, Pablo E. Castillo, Arianna Maffei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


GABAergic interneurons are highly diverse, and their synaptic outputs express various forms of plasticity. Compelling evidence indicates that activity-dependent changes of inhibitory synaptic transmission play a significant role in regulating neural circuits critically involved in learning and memory and circuit refinement. Here, we provide an updated overview of inhibitory synaptic plasticity with a focus on the hippocampus and neocortex. To illustrate the diversity of inhibitory interneurons, we discuss the case of two highly divergent interneuron types, parvalbumin-expressing basket cells and neurogliaform cells, which support unique roles on circuit dynamics. We also present recent progress on the molecular mechanisms underlying long-term, activity-dependent plasticity of fast inhibitory transmission. Lastly, we discuss the role of inhibitory synaptic plasticity in neuronal circuits’ function. The emerging picture is that inhibitory synaptic transmission in the CNS is extremely diverse, undergoes various mechanistically distinct forms of plasticity and contributes to a much more refined computational role than initially thought. Both the remarkable diversity of inhibitory interneurons and the various forms of plasticity expressed by GABAergic synapses provide an amazingly rich inhibitory repertoire that is central to a variety of complex neural circuit functions, including memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6882-6901
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • hippocampus
  • memory
  • neocortex
  • neural circuits
  • synaptic inhibition
  • synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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