The neocortex is organized around layered microcircuits consisting of a variety of excitatory and inhibitory neuronal types which perform rate-and oscillation based computations. Using modeling, we show that both superficial and deep layers of the primary mouse visual cortex implement two ultrasensitive and bistable switches built on mutual inhibitory connectivity motives between SST, PV and VIP cells. The switches toggle pyramidal neurons between high and low firing rate states that are synchronized across layers through translaminar connectivity. Moreover, inhibited and disinhibited states are characterized by low- and high frequency oscillations, respectively, with layer-specific differences in frequency and power which show asymmetric changes during state transitions. These findings are consistent with a number of experimental observations and embed firing rate together with oscillatory changes within a switch interpretation of the microcircuit.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience