Neuronal activity is energetically costly, but despite its importance, energy production and consumption have been studied in only a few neurone types. Neuroenergetics is of special importance in auditory brainstem nuclei, where neurones exhibit various biophysical adaptations for extraordinary temporal precision and show particularly high firing rates. We have studied the development of energy metabolism in three principal nuclei of the superior olivary complex (SOC) involved in precise binaural processing in the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). We used immunohistochemistry to quantify metabolic markers for energy consumption (Na+/K+-ATPase) and production (mitochondria, cytochrome c oxidase activity and glucose transporter 3 (GLUT3)). In addition, we calculated neuronal ATP consumption for different postnatal ages (P0–90) based upon published electrophysiological and morphological data. Our calculations relate neuronal processes to the regeneration of Na+ gradients perturbed by neuronal firing, and thus to ATP consumption by Na+/K+-ATPase. The developmental changes of calculated energy consumption closely resemble those of metabolic markers. Both increase before and after hearing onset occurring at P12–13 and reach a plateau thereafter. The increase in Na+/K+-ATPase and mitochondria precedes the rise in GLUT3 levels and is already substantial before hearing onset, whilst GLUT3 levels are scarcely detectable at this age. Based on these findings we assume that auditory inputs crucially contribute to metabolic maturation. In one nucleus, the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), the initial rise in marker levels and calculated ATP consumption occurs distinctly earlier than in the other nuclei investigated, and is almost completed by hearing onset. Our study shows that the mathematical model used is applicable to brainstem neurones. Energy consumption varies markedly between SOC nuclei with their different neuronal properties. Especially for the medial superior olive (MSO), we propose that temporally precise input integration is energetically more costly than the high firing frequencies typical for all SOC nuclei.
Detection and localization of a target sound in the presence of concurrent, spatially distributed masking sounds is one of the most challenging tasks for the mammalian auditory system. Previous studies demonstrated that the ability to localize signals is decreased by interfering noise. In order to directly compare the behavioral performance in a signal processing task in noise between gerbils and humans in the free sound field, we quantified their localization ability for a low-frequency signal in the presence of six masking noise sources surrounding the subject. Thresholds were measured both for masking noises that were correlated or uncorrelated across the masking sources. Overall, the gerbils required a higher signal/noise ratio to detect the low-frequency signal than the humans; that is, the behavioral performance of the gerbils was considerably worse than that of the humans. Moreover, switching from maskers that were uncorrelated across the masking sources to correlated maskers resulted in more masking in gerbils but in a release from masking in humans. These results would suggest that the gerbil may not be a good animal model for binaural processing. However, simulations of the localization thresholds in a numerical model of binaural processing in gerbils and humans reveal that both the inferior overall performance in gerbils and the opposite effect of masker correlation on the detection thresholds can be attributed to the smaller head size and the wider peripheral auditory filters in gerbils. Thus, the current data indicate that the binaural processor itself (i.e., the evaluation of signals coming from the two ears) is equally sensitive in gerbils and humans. However, the physical limitations imposed by the small head prevent the gerbil from performing equally well in the current paradigm.
unmasking; BMLD; binaural hearing; signal detection; binaural modeling
Interaural time differences (ITDs) are the major cue for localizing low-frequency sounds. The activity of neuronal populations in the brainstem encodes ITDs with an exquisite temporal acuity of about . The response of single neurons, however, also changes with other stimulus properties like the spectral composition of sound. The influence of stimulus frequency is very different across neurons and thus it is unclear how ITDs are encoded independently of stimulus frequency by populations of neurons. Here we fitted a statistical model to single-cell rate responses of the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. The model was used to evaluate the impact of single-cell response characteristics on the frequency-invariant mutual information between rate response and ITD. We found a rough correspondence between the measured cell characteristics and those predicted by computing mutual information. Furthermore, we studied two readout mechanisms, a linear classifier and a two-channel rate difference decoder. The latter turned out to be better suited to decode the population patterns obtained from the fitted model.
Neuronal codes are usually studied by estimating how much information the brain activity carries about the stimulus. On a single cell level, the relevant features of neuronal activity such as the firing rate or spike timing are readily available. On a population level, where many neurons together encode a stimulus property, finding the most appropriate activity features is less obvious, particularly because the neurons respond with a huge cell-to-cell variability. Here, using the example of the neuronal representation of interaural time differences, we show that the quality of the population code strongly depends on the assumption — or the model — of the population readout. We argue that invariances are useful constraints to identify “good” population codes. Based on these ideas, we suggest that the representation of interaural time differences serves a two-channel code in which the difference between the summed activities of the neurons in the two hemispheres exhibits an invariant and linear dependence on interaural time difference.
This review summarizes vertebrate rhombic lip and early cerebellar development covering classic approaches up to modern developmental genetics which identifies the relevant differential gene expression domains and their progeny. Most of this information is derived from amniotes. However, progress in anamniotes, particularly in the zebrafish, has recently been made. The current picture suggests that rhombic lip and cerebellar development in jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) share many characteristics. Regarding cerebellar development, these include a ptf1a expressing ventral cerebellar proliferation (VCP) giving rise to Purkinje cells and other inhibitory cerebellar cell types, and an atoh1 expressing upper rhombic lip giving rise to an external granular layer (EGL, i.e., excitatory granule cells) and an early ventral migration into the anterior rhombencephalon (cholinergic nuclei). As for the lower rhombic lip (LRL), gnathostome commonalities likely include the formation of precerebellar nuclei (mossy fiber origins) and partially primary auditory nuclei (likely convergently evolved) from the atoh1 expressing dorsal zone. The fate of the ptf1a expressing ventral LRL zone which gives rise to (excitatory cells of) the inferior olive (climbing fiber origin) and (inhibitory cells of ) cochlear nuclei in amniotes, has not been determined in anamniotes. Special for the zebrafish in comparison to amniotes is the predominant origin of anamniote excitatory deep cerebellar nuclei homologs (i.e., eurydendroid cells) from ptf1a expressing VCP cells, the sequential activity of various atoh1 paralogs and the incomplete coverage of the subpial cerebellar plate with proliferative EGL cells. Nevertheless, the conclusion that a rhombic lip and its major derivatives evolved with gnathostome vertebrates only and are thus not an ancestral craniate character complex is supported by the absence of a cerebellum (and likely absence of its afferent and efferent nuclei) in jawless fishes
atoh1; cerebellum; cochlear nuclei; precerebellar systems; ptf1a; wnt1; zebrafish; rhombic lip
A prevailing view is that audiovisual integration requires temporally coincident signals. However, a recent study failed to find any evidence for audiovisual integration in visual search even when using synchronized audiovisual events. An important question is what information is critical to observe audiovisual integration.
Here we demonstrate that temporal coincidence (i.e., synchrony) of auditory and visual components can trigger audiovisual interaction in cluttered displays and consequently produce very fast and efficient target identification. In visual search experiments, subjects found a modulating visual target vastly more efficiently when it was paired with a synchronous auditory signal. By manipulating the kind of temporal modulation (sine wave vs. square wave vs. difference wave; harmonic sine-wave synthesis; gradient of onset/offset ramps) we show that abrupt visual events are required for this search efficiency to occur, and that sinusoidal audiovisual modulations do not support efficient search.
Thus, audiovisual temporal alignment will only lead to benefits in visual search if the changes in the component signals are both synchronized and transient. We propose that transient signals are necessary in synchrony-driven binding to avoid spurious interactions with unrelated signals when these occur close together in time.
Shortly after eye opening, initially disorganized visual cortex circuitry is rapidly refined to form smooth retinotopic maps. This process asymptotes long before adulthood, but it is unknown whether further refinement is possible. Prior work from our lab has shown that the retinotopic map of the non-dominant ipsilateral eye develops faster when the dominant contralateral eye is removed. We examined whether input from the contralateral eye might also limit the ultimate refinement of the ipsilateral eye retinotopic map in adults. In addition, we examined whether the increased refinement involved the recruitment of adjacent cortical area.
By surgically implanting a chronic optical window over visual cortex in mice, we repeatedly measured the degree of retinotopic map refinement using quantitative intrinsic signal optical imaging over four weeks. We removed the contralateral eye and observed that the retinotopic map for the ipsilateral eye was further refined and the maximum magnitude of response increased. However, these changes were not accompanied by an increase in the area of responsive cortex.
Since the retinotopic map was functionally refined to a greater degree without taking over adjacent cortical area, we conclude that input from the contralateral eye limits the normal refinement of visual cortical circuitry in mice. These findings suggest that the refinement capacity of cortical circuitry is normally saturated.
Radial intra- and interlaminar connections form a basic microcircuit in primary auditory cortex (AI) that extracts acoustic information and distributes it to cortical and subcortical networks. Though the structure of this microcircuit is known, we do not know how the functional connectivity between layers relates to laminar processing.
We studied the relationships between functional connectivity and receptive field properties in this columnar microcircuit by simultaneously recording from single neurons in cat AI in response to broadband dynamic moving ripple stimuli. We used spectrotemporal receptive fields (STRFs) to estimate the relationship between receptive field parameters and the functional connectivity between pairs of neurons. Interlaminar connectivity obtained through cross-covariance analysis reflected a consistent pattern of information flow from thalamic input layers to cortical output layers. Connection strength and STRF similarity were greatest for intralaminar neuron pairs and in supragranular layers and weaker for interlaminar projections. Interlaminar connection strength co-varied with several STRF parameters: feature selectivity, phase locking to the stimulus envelope, best temporal modulation frequency, and best spectral modulation frequency. Connectivity properties and receptive field relationships differed for vertical and horizontal connections.
Thus, the mode of local processing in supragranular layers differs from that in infragranular layers. Therefore, specific connectivity patterns in the auditory cortex shape the flow of information and constrain how spectrotemporal processing transformations progress in the canonical columnar auditory microcircuit.
A multiplicative combination of tuning to interaural time difference (ITD) and interaural level difference (ILD) contributes to the generation of spatially selective auditory neurons in the owl's midbrain. Previous analyses of multiplicative responses in the owl have not taken into consideration the frequency-dependence of ITD and ILD cues that occur under natural listening conditions. Here, we present a model for the responses of ITD- and ILD-sensitive neurons in the barn owl's inferior colliculus which satisfies constraints raised by experimental data on frequency convergence, multiplicative interaction of ITD and ILD, and response properties of afferent neurons. We propose that multiplication between ITD- and ILD-dependent signals occurs only within frequency channels and that frequency integration occurs using a linear-threshold mechanism. The model reproduces the experimentally observed nonlinear responses to ITD and ILD in the inferior colliculus, with greater accuracy than previous models. We show that linear-threshold frequency integration allows the system to represent multiple sound sources with natural sound localization cues, whereas multiplicative frequency integration does not. Nonlinear responses in the owl's inferior colliculus can thus be generated using a combination of cellular and network mechanisms, showing that multiple elements of previous theories can be combined in a single system.
Previous work on the human auditory cortex has revealed areas specialized in spatial processing but how the neurons in these areas represent the location of a sound source remains unknown.
Here, we performed a magnetoencephalography (MEG) experiment with the aim of revealing the neural code of auditory space implemented by the human cortex. In a stimulus-specific adaptation paradigm, realistic spatial sound stimuli were presented in pairs of adaptor and probe locations. We found that the attenuation of the N1m response depended strongly on the spatial arrangement of the two sound sources. These location-specific effects showed that sounds originating from locations within the same hemifield activated the same neuronal population regardless of the spatial separation between the sound sources. In contrast, sounds originating from opposite hemifields activated separate groups of neurons.
These results are highly consistent with a rate code of spatial location formed by two opponent populations, one tuned to locations in the left and the other to those in the right. This indicates that the neuronal code of sound source location implemented by the human auditory cortex is similar to that previously found in other primates.
A condition vital for the consolidation and maintenance of sleep is generally reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. Despite this, the sleeper maintains a level of stimulus processing that allows to respond to potentially dangerous environmental signals. The mechanisms that subserve these contradictory functions are only incompletely understood.
Using combined EEG/fMRI we investigated the neural substrate of sleep protection by applying an acoustic oddball paradigm during light NREM sleep. Further, we studied the role of evoked K-complexes (KCs), an electroencephalographic hallmark of NREM sleep with a still unknown role for sleep protection. Our main results were: (1) Other than in wakefulness, rare tones did not induce a blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal increase in the auditory pathway but a strong negative BOLD response in motor areas and the amygdala. (2) Stratification of rare tones by the presence of evoked KCs detected activation of the auditory cortex, hippocampus, superior and middle frontal gyri and posterior cingulate only for rare tones followed by a KC. (3) The typical high frontocentral EEG deflections of KCs were not paralleled by a BOLD equivalent.
We observed that rare tones lead to transient disengagement of motor and amygdala responses during light NREM sleep. We interpret this as a sleep protective mechanism to delimit motor responses and to reduce the sensitivity of the amygdala towards further incoming stimuli. Evoked KCs are suggested to originate from a brain state with relatively increased stimulus processing, revealing an activity pattern resembling novelty processing as previously reported during wakefulness. The KC itself is not reflected by increased metabolic demand in BOLD based imaging, arguing that evoked KCs result from increased neural synchronicity without altered metabolic demand.
Myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) is a sialic acid binding Ig-like lectin (Siglec) which has been characterized as potent myelin-derived inhibitor of neurite outgrowth. Two members of the Nogo-receptor (NgR) family, NgR1 and NgR2, have been identified as neuronal binding proteins of MAG. In addition, gangliosides have been proposed to bind to and confer the inhibitory activity of MAG on neurons. In this study, we investigated the individual contribution of NgRs and gangliosides to MAG-mediated inhibition of sensory neurons derived from dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of ngr1, ngr2 or ngr1/ngr2 deletion mutants. We found no disinhibition of neurite growth in the absence of either NgR1 or NgR2. Sensory neurons deficient for both NgR proteins displayed only a moderate reduction of MAG-mediated inhibition of neurite growth. If treated with Vibrio cholerae neuraminidase (VCN), inhibition by MAG is further attenuated but still not annulled. Thus, disrupting all known protein and ganglioside receptors for MAG in sensory neurons does not fully abolish its inhibitory activity pointing to the existence of as yet unidentified receptors for MAG. Moreover, by employing a variety of protein mutants, we identified the Ig-like domains 4 or 5 of MAG as necessary and sufficient for growth arrest, whereas abolishing MAG's ability to bind to sialic acid did not interfere with its inhibitory activity. These findings provide new insights into the inhibitory function of MAG and suggest similarities but also major differences in MAG inhibition between sensory and central nervous system (CNS) neurons.
It is well established that the responses of binaural auditory neurons can adapt and change dramatically depending on the nature of a preceding sound. Examples of how the effects of ensuing stimuli play a functional role in auditory processing include motion sensitivity and precedence-like effects. To date, these types of effects have been documented at the level of the midbrain and above. Little is known about sensitivity to ensuing stimuli below in the superior olivary nuclei where binaural response properties are first established. Here we report on single cell responses in the gerbil lateral superior olive, the initial site where sensitivity to interaural level differences is established. In contrast to our expectations we found a robust sensitivity to ensuing stimuli. The majority of the cells we tested (86%), showed substantial suppression and/or enhancement to a designated target stimulus, depending on the nature of a preceding stimulus. Hence, sensitivity to ensuing stimuli is already established at the first synaptic station of binaural processing.
Binaural; Sound Localization; Interaural Level Difference
Despite their prevalence in nature, echoes are not perceived as events separate from the sounds arriving directly from an active source, until the echo's delay is long. We measured the head-saccades of barn owls and the responses of neurons in their auditory space-maps while presenting a long duration noise-burst and a simulated echo. Under this paradigm, there were two possible stimulus segments that could potentially signal the location of the echo. One was at the onset of the echo; the other, after the offset of the direct (leading) sound, when only the echo was present. By lengthening the echo's duration, independently of its delay, spikes and saccades were evoked by the source of the echo even at delays that normally evoked saccades to only the direct source. An echo's location thus appears to be signaled by the neural response evoked after the offset of the direct sound.
Neuropeptide S (NPS) and its receptor are thought to define a set of specific brain circuits involved in fear and anxiety. Here we provide evidence for a novel, NPS-responsive circuit that shapes neural activity in the mouse basolateral amygdala (BLA) via the endopiriform nucleus (EPN). Using slice preparations, we demonstrate that NPS directly activates an inward current in 20% of EPN neurons and evokes an increase of glutamatergic excitation in this nucleus. Excitation of the EPN is responsible for a modulation of BLA activity through NPS, characterized by a general increase of GABAergic inhibition and enhancement of spike activity in a subset of BLA projection neurons. Finally, local injection of NPS to the EPN interferes with the expression of contextual, but not auditory cued fear memory. Together, these data suggest the existence of a specific NPS-responsive circuitry between EPN and BLA, likely involved in contextual aspects of fear memory.
In this study, we investigate the ability of the mammalian auditory pathway to adapt its strategy for temporal processing under natural stimulus conditions. We derive temporal receptive fields from the responses of neurons in the inferior colliculus to vocalization stimuli with and without additional ambient noise. We find that the onset of ambient noise evokes a change in receptive field dynamics that corresponds to a change from bandpass to lowpass temporal filtering. We show that these changes occur within a few hundred milliseconds of the onset of the noise and are evident across a range of overall stimulus intensities. Using a simple model, we illustrate how these changes in temporal processing exploit differences in the statistical properties of vocalizations and ambient noises to increase the information in the neural response in a manner consistent with the principles of efficient coding.
Pitch patterns, such as melodies, consist of two levels of structure: a global level, comprising the pattern of ups and downs, or contour; and a local level, comprising the precise intervals that make up this contour. An influential neuropsychological model suggests that these two levels of processing are hierarchically linked, with processing of the global structure occurring within the right hemisphere in advance of local processing within the left. However, the predictions of this model and its anatomical basis have not been tested in neurologically normal individuals. The present study used fMRI and required participants to listen to consecutive pitch sequences while performing a same/different one-back task. Sequences, when different, either preserved (local) or violated (global) the contour of the sequence preceding them. When the activations for the local and global conditions were contrasted directly, additional activation was seen for local processing in right planum temporale and posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). The presence of additional activation for local over global processing supports the hierarchical view that the global structure of a pitch sequence acts as a “framework” on which the local detail is subsequently hung. However, the lateralisation of activation seen in the present study, with global processing occurring in left pSTS and local processing occurring bilaterally, differed from that predicted by the neuroanatomical model. A re-examination of the individual lesion data on which the neuroanatomical model is based revealed that the lesion data equally well support the laterality scheme suggested by our data. While the present study supports the hierarchical view of local and global processing, there is an evident need for further research, both in patients and neurologically normal individuals, before an understanding of the functional lateralisation of local and global processing can be considered established.