Head direction (HD) cells form a fundamental component in the brain's spatial navigation system and are intricately linked to spatial memory and cognition. Although HD cells have been shown to act as an internal neuronal compass in various cortical and subcortical regions, the neural substrate of HD cells is incompletely understood. It is reported that HD cells in the somatosensory cortex comprise regular-spiking (RS, putative excitatory) and fast-spiking (FS, putative inhibitory) neurons. Surprisingly, somatosensory FS HD cells fire in bursts and display much sharper head-directionality than RS HD cells. These FS HD cells are nonconjunctive, rarely theta rhythmic, sparsely connected and enriched in layer 5. Moreover, sharply tuned FS HD cells, in contrast with RS HD cells, maintain stable tuning in darkness; FS HD cells' coexistence with RS HD cells and angular head velocity (AHV) cells in a layer-specific fashion through the somatosensory cortex presents a previously unreported configuration of spatial representation in the neocortex. Together, these findings challenge the notion that FS interneurons are weakly tuned to sensory stimuli, and offer a local circuit organization relevant to the generation and transmission of HD signaling in the brain.
Keywords: angular head velocity cells; fast-spiking neurons; head direction cells; somatosensory cortex; spatial cognitive maps; theta rhythmicity.
© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.