Bistable network behavior of layer I interneurons in auditory cortex

Elliott B. Merriam, Theoden I. Netoff, Matthew I. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


GABAergic interneurons in many areas of the neocortex are mutually connected via chemical and electrical synapses. Previous computational studies have explored how these coupling parameters influence the firing patterns of interneuronal networks. These models have predicted that the stable states of such interneuronal networks will be either synchrony (near zero phase lag) or antisynchrony (phase lag near one-half of the: interspike interval), depending on network connectivity and firing rates. In certain parameter regimens, the network can be bistable, settling into either stable state depending on the initial conditions. Here, we investigated how connectivity parameters influence spike patterns in paired recordings from layer I interneurons in brain slices from juvenile mice. Observed properties of chemical and electrical synapses were used to simulate connections between uncoupled cells via dynamic clamp. In uncoupled pairs, action potentials induced by constant depolarizing currents had randomly distributed phase differences between the two cells. When coupled with simulated chemical (inhibitory) synapses, however, these pairs exhibited a bimodal firing pattern, tending to fire either in synchrony or in antisynchrony. Combining electrical with chemical synapses, prolonging τDecay of inhibitory connections, or increasing the firing rate of the network all resulted in enhanced stability of the synchronous state. Thus, electrical and inhibitory synaptic coupling constrain the relative timing of spikes in a two-cell network to, at most, two stable states, the stability and precision of which depend on the exact parameters of coupling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6175-6186
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 29 2005


  • Anesthesia
  • GABA
  • Gap junctions
  • Inhibition
  • Neocortex
  • Synchrony


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