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Pyramidal cells and GABAergic interneurons fire together in balanced cortical networks. In contrast to this general rule, we describe a distinct neuron type in mice and rats whose spiking activity is anti-correlated with all principal cells and interneurons in all brain states but, most prevalently, during the down state of non-REM (NREM) sleep. We identify these down state-active (DSA) neurons as deep-layer neocortical neurogliaform cells that express ID2 and Nkx2.1 and are weakly immunoreactive to neuronal nitric oxide synthase. DSA neurons are weakly excited by deep-layer pyramidal cells and strongly inhibited by several other GABAergic cell types. Spiking of DSA neurons modified the sequential firing order of other neurons at down-up transitions. Optogenetic activation of ID2+Nkx2.1+ interneurons in the posterior parietal cortex during NREM sleep, but not during waking, interfered with consolidation of cue discrimination memory. Despite their sparsity, DSA neurons perform critical physiological functions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41593-021-00797-6

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nat Neurosci

Publication Date

22/02/2021