Distinct neural firing mechanisms to tonal stimuli offset in the inferior colliculus of mice in vivo.
ABSTRACT Offset neurons, which fire at the termination of sound, likely encode sound duration and serve to process temporal information. Offset neurons are found in most ascending auditory nuclei; however, the neural mechanisms that evoke offset responses are not well understood. In this study, we examined offset neural responses to tonal stimuli in the inferior colliculus (IC) in vivo with extracellular and intracellular recording techniques in mice. Based on peristimulus time histogram (PSTH) patterns, we classified extracellular offset responses into four types: Offset, Onset-Offset, Onset-Sustained-Offset and Inhibition-Offset types. Moreover, using in vivo whole-cell recording techniques, we found that offset responses were generated in most cells through the excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs. However, in a small number of cells, the offset responses were generated as a rebound to hyperpolarization during tonal stimulation. Many offset neurons fired robustly at a preferred duration of tonal stimulus, which corresponded with the timing of rich excitatory synaptic inputs. We concluded that most IC offset neurons encode the termination of the tone stimulus by responding to inherited ascending synaptic information, which is tuned to sound duration. The remainder generates offset spikes de novo through a post-inhibitory rebound mechanism.