Synchronization of precise spike times across multiple neurons carries information about sensory stimuli. Inhibitory interneurons are suggested to promote this synchronization, but it is unclear whether distinct interneuron subtypes provide different contributions. To test this, we examined single-unit recordings from barrel cortex in vivo and used optogenetics to determine the contribution of parvalbumin (PV)- and somatostatin (SST)-positive interneurons to the synchronization of spike times across cortical layers. We found that PV interneurons preferentially promote the synchronization of spike times when instantaneous firing rates are low (<12 Hz), whereas SST interneurons preferentially promote the synchronization of spike times when instantaneous firing rates are high (>12 Hz). Furthermore, using a computational model, we demonstrate that these effects can be explained by PV and SST interneurons having preferential contributions to feedforward and feedback inhibition, respectively. Our findings demonstrate that distinct subtypes of inhibitory interneurons have frequency-selective roles in the spatiotemporal synchronization of precise spike times.
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