Neostriatal cholinergic interneurons are believed to be important for reinforcement-mediated learning and response selection by signaling the occurrence and motivational value of behaviorally relevant stimuli through precisely timed multiphasic population responses. An important problem is to understand how these signals regulate the functioning of the neostriatum. Here we describe the synaptic organization of a previously unknown circuit that involves direct nicotinic excitation of several classes of GABAergic interneurons, including neuroptide Y–expressing neurogilaform neurons, and enables cholinergic interneurons to exert rapid inhibitory control of the activity of projection neurons. We also found that, in vivo, the dominant effect of an optogenetically reproduced pause-excitation population response of cholinergic interneurons was powerful and rapid inhibition of the firing of projection neurons that is coincident with synchronous cholinergic activation. These results reveal a previously unknown circuit mechanism that transmits reinforcement-related information of ChAT interneurons in the mouse neostriatal network.
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