One of the largest mysteries of the brain lies in understanding how higher-level computations are implemented by lower-level operations in neurons and synapses. In particular, in many brain regions inhibitory interneurons represent a diverse class of cells, the individual functional roles of which are unknown. We discuss here how the operations of inhibitory interneurons influence the behavior of a circuit, focusing on recent results in the vertebrate retina. A key role in this understanding is played by a common representation of the visual stimulus that can be applied at different stages. By considering how this stimulus representation changes at each location in the circuit, we can understand how neuron-level operations such as thresholds and inhibition yield circuit-level computations such as how stimulus selectivity and gain are controlled by local and peripheral visual stimuli.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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