Different subtypes of GABAergic neurons in sensory cortex exhibit diverse morphology, histochemical markers, and patterns of connectivity. These subtypes likely play distinct roles in cortical function, but their in vivo response properties remain unclear. We used in vivo calcium imaging, combined with immunohistochemical and genetic labels, to record visual responses in excitatory neurons and up to three distinct subtypes of GABAergic neurons (immunoreactive for parvalbumin, somatostatin, or vasoactive intestinal peptide) in layer 2/3 of mouse visual cortex. Excitatory neurons had sharp response selectivity for stimulus orientation and spatial frequency, while all GABAergic subtypes had broader selectivity. Further, bias in the responses of GABAergic neurons toward particular orientations or spatial frequencies tended to reflect net biases of the surrounding neurons. These results suggest that the sensory responses of layer 2/3 GABAergic neurons reflect the pooled activity of the surrounding population-a principle that may generalize across species and sensory modalities.
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We thank Sergey Yurgenson for technical contributions and Soumya Chatterjee for assistance with cell-attached recordings. Aleksandr Vagodny, Demetris Roumis, Mark Henry, Lindsay Knox, Patrick Dempsey, and Derrick Brittain provided valuable technical assistance. We also thank Vincent Bonin, Kenichi Ohki, Lindsey Glickfeld, Prakash Kara, Mark Histed, Joshua Morgan, Jessica Cardin, Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Julie Haas, and Cindy Poo for advice, suggestions, and discussion. This work was supported by NIH grant R01 EY018742, grant P30 EY12196, and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation (M.L.A.).