Neuronal activation times to simple, complex, and natural sounds in cat primary and nonprimary auditory cortex.
ABSTRACT Interactions between living organisms and the environment are commonly regulated by accurate and timely processing of sensory signals. Hence, behavioral response engagement by an organism is typically constrained by the arrival time of sensory information to the brain. While psychophysical response latencies to acoustic information have been investigated, little is known about how variations in neuronal response time relate to sensory signal characteristics. Consequently, the primary objective of the present investigation was to determine the pattern of neuronal activation induced by simple (pure tones), complex (noise bursts and frequency modulated sweeps), and natural (conspecific vocalizations) acoustic signals of different durations in cat auditory cortex. Our analysis revealed three major cortical response characteristics. First, latency measures systematically increase in an antero-dorsal to postero-ventral direction among regions of auditory cortex. Second, complex acoustic stimuli reliably provoke faster neuronal response engagement than simple stimuli. Third, variations in neuronal response time induced by changes in stimulus duration are dependent on acoustic spectral features. Collectively, these results demonstrate that acoustic signals, regardless of complexity, induce a directional pattern of activation in auditory cortex.
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ABSTRACT: Auditory cortical maps have been a long-standing focus of studies that assess the expression, mechanisms, and consequences of sensory plasticity. Here we discuss recent progress in understanding how auditory experience transforms spatially organized sound representations at higher levels of the central auditory pathways. New insights into the mechanisms underlying map changes have been achieved and more refined interpretations of various map plasticity effects and their consequences in terms of behavioral corollaries and learning as well as other cognitive aspects have been offered. The systematic organizational principles of cortical sound processing remain a key aspect in studying and interpreting the role of plasticity in hearing.Current Opinion in Neurobiology 01/2014; 24:143-156. · 6.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Because of its great genetic potential, the mouse (Mus musculus) has become a popular model species for studies on hearing and sound processing along the auditory pathways. Here, we present the first comparative study on the representation of neuronal response parameters to tones in primary and higher-order auditory cortical fields of awake mice. We quantified 12 neuronal properties of tone processing in order to estimate similarities and differences of function between the fields, and to discuss how far auditory cortex (AC) function in the mouse is comparable to that in awake monkeys and cats. Extracellular recordings were made from 1400 small clusters of neurons from cortical layers III/IV in the primary fields AI (primary auditory field) and AAF (anterior auditory field), and the higher-order fields AII (second auditory field) and DP (dorsoposterior field). Field specificity was shown with regard to spontaneous activity, correlation between spontaneous and evoked activity, tone response latency, sharpness of frequency tuning, temporal response patterns (occurrence of phasic responses, phasic-tonic responses, tonic responses, and off-responses), and degree of variation between the characteristic frequency (CF) and the best frequency (BF) (CF-BF relationship). Field similarities were noted as significant correlations between CFs and BFs, V-shaped frequency tuning curves, similar minimum response thresholds and non-monotonic rate-level functions in approximately two-thirds of the neurons. Comparative and quantitative analyses showed that the measured response characteristics were, to various degrees, susceptible to influences of anesthetics. Therefore, studies of neuronal responses in the awake AC are important in order to establish adequate relationships between neuronal data and auditory perception and acoustic response behavior.European Journal of Neuroscience 02/2014; · 3.67 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the extent, magnitude, and pattern of brain activity in response to rapid frequency-modulated sounds. We examined this by manipulating the direction (rise vs. fall) and the rate (fast vs. slow) of the apparent pitch of iterated rippled noise (IRN) bursts. Acoustic parameters were selected to capture features used in phoneme contrasts, however the stimuli themselves were not perceived as speech per se. Participants were scanned as they passively listened to sounds in an event-related paradigm. Univariate analyses revealed a greater level and extent of activation in bilateral auditory cortex in response to frequency-modulated sweeps compared to steady-state sounds. This effect was stronger in the left hemisphere. However, no regions showed selectivity for either rate or direction of frequency modulation. In contrast, multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) revealed feature-specific encoding for direction of modulation in auditory cortex bilaterally. Moreover, this effect was strongest when analyses were restricted to anatomical regions lying outside Heschl's gyrus. We found no support for feature-specific encoding of frequency modulation rate. Differential findings of modulation rate and direction of modulation are discussed with respect to their relevance to phonetic discrimination.Frontiers in Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:306.