The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays an important role in cognitive functions such as attention, memory and decision-making. Faulty wiring between PFC and other brain areas is thought to give rise to a variety of cognitive disorders. Disruptions to one particular brain circuit—between the PFC and another part of the brain called the thalamus—have been associated with schizophrenia, but the mechanistic details are unknown. Now, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists have discovered an inhibitory connection between these brain areas in mice that can control the timing of information flow into PFC. This insight may help explain what goes wrong in schizophrenia and indicate a path to new treatments.