Although the rigorous anatomical definition of the microcircuitry of the brain is essential for understanding its functions, the modulation of the physiological properties of neurons and synapses may confer an additional level of complexity. Here, I review two examples of neuromodulation within a specific microcircuit of the hippocampus, i.e. the local network of stratum lacunosum-moleculare. In particular, I will examine the actions of two different types of neuromodulators on the excitability and electrical coupling of two specific classes of cells. First, I will review the effects of noradrenaline on GABAergic networks. Particular emphasis will be placed on neurogliaform cells. Then, I will describe the chemokinergic modulation of spontaneous firing of Cajal-Retzius cells, mediated by the chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12/stromal cell-derived factor-1 α (CXCL12/SDF-1) via the CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). The complexities created by these diverse types of modulations for network activity, together with their potential implications for stratum lacunosum-moleculare processing of information in vivo, will be also presented and briefly discussed.
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