Optogenetic stimulation reveals frequency-dependent resonance and encoding in V1 excitatory and inhibitory neurons

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Cortical information processing is thought to be facilitated by the resonant properties of individual neurons and neuronal networks, which selectively amplify inputs at specific frequencies. We used optogenetics to test how different input frequencies are encoded by excitatory cells and parvalbumin-expressing (PV) interneurons in mouse V1. Spike phase-locking and power increased with frequency, reaching a broad peak around 80-100Hz. This effect was observed only for Chronos, a fast-kinetic opsin, but not for Channelrhodopsin-2. Surprisingly, neurons did not exhibit narrow-band resonance in specific frequency-ranges, and showed reliably phase-locking up to 140Hz. Strong phase-locking at high frequencies reflected non-linear input/output transformations, with neurons firing only in a narrow part of the cycle. By contrast, low-frequency inputs were encoded in a more continuous manner. Correspondingly, spectral coherence and firing rates showed little dependence on frequency and did not reflect transferred power. To investigate whether strong phase-locking facilitated the reliable encoding of inputs, we analyzed various spike-train distances and Fano factor. Interestingly, responses to lower rather than higher frequencies had more globally reliable spike-counts and timing structure. These findings have various practical implications for understanding the effects of optogenetic stimulation and choice of opsin. Furthermore, they show both PV and excitatory neurons respond with more local precision, i.e. phase-locking, to high-frequency inputs, but have more globally reliable responses to low-frequency inputs, suggesting differential coding regimes for these frequencies.

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