The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-expressing interneurons (VIP-INs) play a key role in the regulation of cortical circuits and are implicated in perceptual function and psychiatric disease. However, their role in perceptual augmentation and learning remains understudied. We performed chronic, localized ablation of VIP-INs in the primary visual cortex of adult mice using caspase-induced apoptosis to better understand how VIP-INs contribute to visual perception and the ability to learn a visual detection task. We find that chronic VIP-IN ablation does not affect naïve performance on a full-screen visual contrast detection task. However, mice with suppressed levels of VIP-INs achieved their final expert state more rapidly and exhibited a greater detection advantage during high-arousal compared to control mice. These results suggest VIP-INs have an important role in modulating the learning process of cortical networks in the primary visual cortex.