In pyramidal cells, the induction of spike-dependent plasticity (STDP) follows a simple Hebbian rule in which the order of presynaptic and postsynaptic firing dictates the induction of LTP or LTD. In contrast, cortical fast spiking (FS) interneurons, which control the rate and timing of pyramidal cell firing, reportedly express timing-dependent LTD, but not timing-dependent LTP. Because a mismatch in STDP rules could impact the maintenance of the excitation/inhibition balance, we examined the neuromodulation of STDP in FS cells of mouse visual cortex. We found that stimulation of adrenergic receptors enables the induction of Hebbian bidirectional STDP in FS cells in a manner consistent with a pull-push mechanism previously characterized in pyramidal cells. However, in pyramidal cells, STDP induction depends on NMDA receptors, whereas in FS cells it depends on mGluR5 receptors. We propose that neuromodulators control the polarity of STDP in different synapses in the same manner, and independently of the induction mechanism, by acting downstream in the plasticity cascade. By doing so, neuromodulators may allow coordinated plastic changes in FS and pyramidal cells.
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