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  • Book
    Scott Fraser Owen.
    Neural circuits throughout the brain are under the continuous influence of neuromodulators which shape network activity in accordance with behavioral context. Oxytocin is a key neuromodulator that has been linked to social memory and maternal behavior in animals, as well as to autism spectrum disorders, trust, emotion recognition and parenting in humans. Here we show that activation of oxytocin receptors sharpens the responses of the hippocampal circuit, increasing the signal of spike transmission through the network while simultaneously suppressing the noise of background spontaneous activity. Both of these actions are mediated through a depolarization of the fast-spiking interneurons. The resulting increase in inhibitory tone serves to silence spontaneous activity in the CA1 pyramidal cells, while a use-dependent depression of the inhibitory synapses permits enhanced feed-forward spike transmission. Furthermore, we show that oxytocin potently modulates spontaneous hippocampal Sharp-Wave Ripple oscillations in a slice preparation. These results elucidate the action of oxytocin in the hippocampus, while simultaneously shedding light on a novel mechanism by which modulation of fast-spiking interneurons can modify hippocampal circuit activity.