Lack of orientation and direction selectivity in a subgroup of fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons: cellular and synaptic mechanisms and comparison with other electrophysiological cell types

Cereb Cortex. 2008 May;18(5):1058-78. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhm137. Epub 2007 Aug 23.


Neurons in cat area 17 can be grouped in 4 different electrophysiological cell classes (regular spiking, intrinsically bursting, chattering, and fast spiking [FS]). However, little is known of the functional properties of these different cell classes. Here we compared orientation and direction selectivity between these cell classes in cat area 17 and found that a subset of FS inhibitory neurons, usually with complex receptive fields, exhibited little selectivity in comparison with other cell types. Differences in occurrence and amplitude of gamma-range membrane fluctuations, as well as in numbers of action potentials in response to optimal visual stimuli, did not parallel differences observed for orientation and direction selectivity. Instead, differences in selectivity resulted mostly from differences in tuning of the membrane potential responses, although variations in spike threshold also contributed: weakly selective FS neurons exhibited both a lower spike threshold and more broadly tuned membrane potential responses in comparison with the other cell classes. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that a subgroup of FS neurons receives connections and possesses intrinsic properties allowing the generation of weakly selective responses. The existence of weakly selective inhibitory neurons is consistent with orientation selectivity models that rely on broadly tuned inhibition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*