Author(s): Nakamoto KT, Zhang J, Kitzes LM
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Abstract Auditory stimuli occur most often in sequences rather than in isolation. It is therefore necessary to understand how responses to sounds occurring in sequences differ from responses to isolated sounds. Cells in primary auditory cortex (AI) respond to a large set of binaural stimuli when presented in isolation. The set of responses to such stimuli presented at one frequency comprises a level response area. A preceding binaural stimulus can reduce the size and magnitude of level response areas of AI cells. The present study focuses on the effects of the time interval between a preceding stimulus and the stimuli of a level response area in pentobarbital-anesthetized cats. After the offset of a preceding stimulus, the ability of AI cells to respond to succeeding stimuli varies dynamically in time. At short interstimulus intervals (ISI), a preceding stimulus can completely inhibit responses to succeeding stimuli. With increasing ISIs, AI cells respond first to binaural stimuli that evoke the largest responses in the control condition, i.e., not preceded by a stimulus. Recovery rate is nonlinear across the level response area; responses to these most-effective stimuli recover to 70\% of control on average 187 ms before responses to other stimuli recover to 70\% of their control sizes. During the tens to hundreds of milliseconds that a level response area is reduced in size and magnitude, the selectivity of AI cells is increased for stimuli that evoke the largest responses. This increased selectivity results from a temporal nonlinearity in the recovery of the level response area which protects responses to the most effective binaural stimuli. Thus in a sequence of effective stimuli, a given cell will respond selectively to only those stimuli that evoke a strong response when presented alone.
This article was published in J Neurophysiol
and referenced in Otolaryngology: Open Access