Alterations in neocortical GABAergic interneurons (INs) have been affiliated with neuropsychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia (SZ). Significant progress has been made linking the function of a specific subtype of GABAergic cells, parvalbumin (PV) positive INs, to altered gamma-band oscillations, which, in turn, underlie perceptual and feedforward information processing in cortical circuits. Here, we review a smaller but growing volume of literature focusing on a separate subtype of neocortical GABAergic INs, somatostatin (SST) positive INs. Despite sharing similar neurodevelopmental origins, SSTs exhibit distinct morphology and physiology from PVs. Like PVs, SSTs are altered in postmortem brain samples from multiple neocortical regions in SZ, although basic and translational research into consequences of SST dysfunction has been relatively sparse. We highlight a growing body of work in rodents, which now indicates that SSTs may also underlie specific aspects of cortical circuit function, namely low-frequency oscillations, disinhibition, and mediation of cortico-cortical feedback. SSTs may thereby support the coordination of local cortical information processing with more global spatial, temporal, and behavioral context, including predictive coding and working memory. These functions are notably deficient in some cases of SZ, as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders, emphasizing the importance of focusing on SSTs in future translational studies. Finally, we highlight the challenges that remain, including subtypes within the SST class.
Keywords: GABA; cortex; gamma; oscillations; parvalbumin; theta.
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