Adaptive changes in cortical receptive fields induced by attention to complex sounds

Center for Auditory and Acoustic Research, Institute for Systems Research, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.04). 11/2007; 98(4):2337-46. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00552.2007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Receptive fields in primary auditory cortex (A1) can be rapidly and adaptively reshaped to enhance responses to salient frequency cues when using single tones as targets. To explore receptive field changes to more complex spectral patterns, we trained ferrets to detect variable, multitone targets in the context of background, rippled noise. Recordings from A1 of behaving ferrets showed a consistent pattern of plasticity, at both the single-neuron level and the population level, with enhancement for each component tone frequency and suppression for intertone frequencies. Plasticity was strongest near neuronal best frequency, rapid in onset, and slow to fade. Although attention may trigger cortical plasticity, the receptive field changes persisted after the behavioral task was completed. The observed comb filter plasticity is an example of an adaptive contrast matched filter, which may generally improve discriminability between foreground and background sounds and, we conjecture, may predict A1 cortical plasticity for any complex spectral target.

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