Gamma oscillations (30–55 Hz) are hypothesized to temporally coordinate sensory encoding, enabling perception. However, fast spiking interneurons (FS), key gamma generators, can be highly sensory responsive, as is the gamma band local field potential (LFP). How can FS-mediated gamma act as an impartial temporal reference for sensory encoding, when the sensory drive itself presumably perturbs the pre-established rhythm? Combining tetrode recording in SI barrel cortex with controlled psychophysics, we found a unique FS subtype that was not sensory responsive and spiked regularly at gamma range intervals (gamma regular nonsensory FS [grnsFS]). Successful detection was predicted by a further increase in gamma regular spiking of grnsFS, persisting from before to after sensory onset. In contrast, broadband LFP power, including gamma, negatively predicted detection and did not cohere with gamma band spiking by grnsFS. These results suggest that a distinct FS subtype mediates perceptually relevant oscillations, independent of the LFP and sensory drive.
Keywords : primary somatosensory area of the neocortex; barrel cortex; whisker; detection; psychophysics; parvalbumin; synchrony; window of opportunity; inter-spike intervals; coefficient of variation