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1.  Classification of frequency response areas in the inferior colliculus reveals continua not discrete classes 
The Journal of Physiology  2013;591(Pt 16):4003-4025.
A differential response to sound frequency is a fundamental property of auditory neurons. Frequency analysis in the cochlea gives rise to V-shaped tuning functions in auditory nerve fibres, but by the level of the inferior colliculus (IC), the midbrain nucleus of the auditory pathway, neuronal receptive fields display diverse shapes that reflect the interplay of excitation and inhibition. The origin and nature of these frequency receptive field types is still open to question. One proposed hypothesis is that the frequency response class of any given neuron in the IC is predominantly inherited from one of three major afferent pathways projecting to the IC, giving rise to three distinct receptive field classes. Here, we applied subjective classification, principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and other objective statistical measures, to a large population (2826) of frequency response areas from single neurons recorded in the IC of the anaesthetised guinea pig. Subjectively, we recognised seven frequency response classes (V-shaped, non-monotonic Vs, narrow, closed, tilt down, tilt up and double-peaked), that were represented at all frequencies. We could identify similar classes using our objective classification tools. Importantly, however, many neurons exhibited properties intermediate between these classes, and none of the objective methods used here showed evidence of discrete response classes. Thus receptive field shapes in the IC form continua rather than discrete classes, a finding consistent with the integration of afferent inputs in the generation of frequency response areas. The frequency disposition of inhibition in the response areas of some neurons suggests that across-frequency inputs originating at or below the level of the IC are involved in their generation.
doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.255943
PMCID: PMC3764642  PMID: 23753527
2.  Perception and coding of high-frequency spectral notches: potential implications for sound localization 
The interaction of sound waves with the human pinna introduces high-frequency notches (5–10 kHz) in the stimulus spectrum that are thought to be useful for vertical sound localization. A common view is that these notches are encoded as rate profiles in the auditory nerve (AN). Here, we review previously published psychoacoustical evidence in humans and computer-model simulations of inner hair cell responses to noises with and without high-frequency spectral notches that dispute this view. We also present new recordings from guinea pig AN and “ideal observer” analyses of these recordings that suggest that discrimination between noises with and without high-frequency spectral notches is probably based on the information carried in the temporal pattern of AN discharges. The exact nature of the neural code involved remains nevertheless uncertain: computer model simulations suggest that high-frequency spectral notches are encoded in spike timing patterns that may be operant in the 4–7 kHz frequency regime, while “ideal observer” analysis of experimental neural responses suggest that an effective cue for high-frequency spectral discrimination may be based on sampling rates of spike arrivals of AN fibers using non-overlapping time binwidths of between 4 and 9 ms. Neural responses show that sensitivity to high-frequency notches is greatest for fibers with low and medium spontaneous rates than for fibers with high spontaneous rates. Based on this evidence, we conjecture that inter-subject variability at high-frequency spectral notch detection and, consequently, at vertical sound localization may partly reflect individual differences in the available number of functional medium- and low-spontaneous-rate fibers.
doi:10.3389/fnins.2014.00112
PMCID: PMC4034511  PMID: 24904258
auditory nerve; rate profile; phase-locking; temporal profile; head-related transfer function; HRTF
3.  The Effect of Correlated Neuronal Firing and Neuronal Heterogeneity on Population Coding Accuracy in Guinea Pig Inferior Colliculus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81660.
It has been suggested that the considerable noise in single-cell responses to a stimulus can be overcome by pooling information from a large population. Theoretical studies indicated that correlations in trial-to-trial fluctuations in the responses of different neurons may limit the improvement due to pooling. Subsequent theoretical studies have suggested that inherent neuronal diversity, i.e., the heterogeneity of tuning curves and other response properties of neurons preferentially tuned to the same stimulus, can provide a means to overcome this limit. Here we study the effect of spike-count correlations and the inherent neuronal heterogeneity on the ability to extract information from large neural populations. We use electrophysiological data from the guinea pig Inferior-Colliculus to capture inherent neuronal heterogeneity and single cell statistics, and introduce response correlations artificially. To this end, we generate pseudo-population responses, based on single-cell recording of neurons responding to auditory stimuli with varying binaural correlations. Typically, when pseudo-populations are generated from single cell data, the responses within the population are statistically independent. As a result, the information content of the population will increase indefinitely with its size. In contrast, here we apply a simple algorithm that enables us to generate pseudo-population responses with variable spike-count correlations. This enables us to study the effect of neuronal correlations on the accuracy of conventional rate codes. We show that in a homogenous population, in the presence of even low-level correlations, information content is bounded. In contrast, utilizing a simple linear readout, that takes into account the natural heterogeneity, even of neurons preferentially tuned to the same stimulus, within the neural population, one can overcome the correlated noise and obtain a readout whose accuracy grows linearly with the size of the population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081660
PMCID: PMC3864845  PMID: 24358120
4.  Auditory evoked magnetic fields in individuals with tinnitus☆ 
Hearing Research  2013;302(100):50-59.
Some forms of tinnitus are likely to be perceptual consequences of altered neural activity in the central auditory system triggered by damage to the auditory periphery. Animal studies report changes in the evoked responses after noise exposure or ototoxic drugs in inferior colliculus and auditory cortex. However, human electrophysiological evidence is rather equivocal: increased, reduced or no difference in N1/N1m evoked amplitudes and latencies in tinnitus participants have been reported.
The present study used magnetoencephalography to seek evidence for altered evoked responses in people with tinnitus compared to controls (hearing loss matched and normal hearing) in four different stimulus categories (a control tone, a tone corresponding to the audiometric edge, to the dominant tinnitus pitch and a tone within the area of hearing loss). Results revealed that amplitudes of the evoked responses differed depending on the tone category. N1m amplitude to the dominant tinnitus pitch and the frequency within the area of hearing loss were reduced compared to the other two categories. Given that tinnitus pitch is typically within the area of hearing loss, the differences in the evoked responses pattern in tinnitus participants seem to be related more to the hearing loss than to the presence of tinnitus.
Highlights
•We use MEG to compare evoked responses in participants with tinnitus and controls.•We compare N1m responses to control, edge, tinnitus and hearing loss tone.•N1m amplitudes to the tinnitus and hearing loss tones are reduced.•Differences in N1m amplitudes are related to hearing loss rather than tinnitus.•There are no tinnitus-specific changes in the pattern of N1m responses.
doi:10.1016/j.heares.2013.04.006
PMCID: PMC3709092  PMID: 23639335
ABR, auditory brainstem responses; ANOVA, analysis of variance; EEG, electroencephalography; HL, hearing loss; MEG, magnetoencephalography; PTA, pure tone average; SL, sensation level; TI, tinnitus; THI, Tinnitus Handicap Inventory
5.  Correction: Processing of Communication Calls in Guinea Pig Auditory Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):10.1371/annotation/3b354af8-3468-4d8e-84bd-d3245dfa198c.
doi:10.1371/annotation/3b354af8-3468-4d8e-84bd-d3245dfa198c
PMCID: PMC3663932
6.  Cortical Inactivation by Cooling in Small Animals 
Reversible inactivation of the cortex by surface cooling is a powerful method for studying the function of a particular area. Implanted cooling cryoloops have been used to study the role of individual cortical areas in auditory processing of awake-behaving cats. Cryoloops have also been used in rodents for reversible inactivation of the cortex, but recently there has been a concern that the cryoloop may also cool non-cortical structures either directly or via the perfusion of blood, cooled as it passed close to the cooling loop. In this study we have confirmed that the loop can inactivate most of the auditory cortex without causing a significant reduction in temperature of the auditory thalamus or other subcortical structures. We placed a cryoloop on the surface of the guinea pig cortex, cooled it to 2°C and measured thermal gradients across the neocortical surface. We found that the temperature dropped to 20–24°C among cells within a radius of about 2.5 mm away from the loop. This temperature drop was sufficient to reduce activity of most cortical cells and led to the inactivation of almost the entire auditory region. When the temperature of thalamus, midbrain, and middle ear were measured directly during cortical cooling, there was a small drop in temperature (about 4°C) but this was not sufficient to directly reduce neural activity. In an effort to visualize the extent of neural inactivation we measured the uptake of thallium ions following an intravenous injection. This confirmed that there was a large reduction of activity across much of the ipsilateral cortex and only a small reduction in subcortical structures.
doi:10.3389/fnsys.2011.00053
PMCID: PMC3122068  PMID: 21734869
auditory cortex; cooling inactivation; cryoloop; thallium autometallography
7.  A novel behavioural approach to detecting tinnitus in the guinea pig 
Journal of Neuroscience Methods  2013;213(2):188-195.
Highlights
► Prepulse inhibition can be reliably and robustly measured using the Preyer reflex. ► The Preyer reflex is a more reliable response than the whole-body startle in guinea pigs. ► Salicylate impairs gap detection at specific background noise frequencies, indicating the presence of tinnitus. ► Measuring gap detection using the Preyer reflex is a suitable method for identifying tinnitus.
Tinnitus, the perception of sound in the absence of an external stimulus, is a particularly challenging condition to demonstrate in animals. In any animal model, objective confirmation of tinnitus is essential before we can study the neural changes that produce it. A gap detection method, based on prepulse inhibition of the whole-body startle reflex, is often used as a behavioural test for tinnitus in rodents. However, in the guinea pig the whole-body startle reflex is subject to rapid habituation and hence is not an ideal behavioural measure. By contrast, in this species the Preyer or pinna reflex is a very reliable indicator of the startle response and is much less subject to habituation. We have developed a novel adaptation of the gap detection paradigm, which uses the Preyer reflex to measure the startle response, rather than whole-body movement. Using this method, we have demonstrated changes in gap detection, in guinea pigs where tinnitus had been induced by the administration of a high dose of salicylate. Our data indicate that the Preyer reflex gap detection method is a reliable test for tinnitus in guinea pigs.
doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.12.023
PMCID: PMC3580292  PMID: 23291084
Tinnitus; Guinea pig; Preyer reflex; Pinna reflex; Gap detection; Prepulse inhibition; Sodium salicylate; Whole-body startle
8.  The binaural performance of a cross-talk cancellation system with matched or mismatched setup and playback acoustics 
Cross-talk cancellation is a method for synthesising virtual auditory space using loudspeakers. One implementation is the “Optimal Source Distribution” technique [T. Takeuchi and P. Nelson, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 112, 2786-2797 (2002)], in which the audio bandwidth is split across three pairs of loudspeakers, placed at azimuths of ±90°, ±15°, and ±3°, conveying low, mid and high frequencies, respectively. A computational simulation of this system was developed and verified against measurements made on an acoustic system using a manikin. Both the acoustic system and the simulation gave a wideband average cancellation of almost 25 dB. The simulation showed that when there was a mismatch between the head-related transfer functions used to set up the system and those of the final listener, the cancellation was reduced to an average of 13 dB. Moreover, in this case the binaural ITDs and ILDs delivered by the simulation of the OSD system often differed from the target values. It is concluded that only when the OSD system is set up with “matched” head-related transfer functions can it deliver accurate binaural cues.
PMCID: PMC3561850  PMID: 17348528
9.  Representation of individual elements of a complex call sequence in primary auditory cortex 
Conspecific communication calls can be rhythmic or contain extended, discontinuous series of either constant or frequency modulated harmonic tones and noise bursts separated by brief periods of silence. In the guinea pig, rhythmic calls can produce isomorphic responses within the primary auditory cortex (AI) where single units respond to every call element. Other calls such as the chutter comprise a series of short irregular syllables that vary in their spectral content and are more like human speech. These calls can also evoke isomorphic responses, but may only do so in fields in the auditory belt and not in AI. Here we present evidence that cells in AI treat the individual elements within a syllable as separate auditory objects and respond selectively to one or a subset of them. We used a single chutter exemplar to compare single/multi-unit responses in the low-frequency portion of AI—AI(LF) and the low-frequency part of the thalamic medial geniculate body—MGB(LF) in urethane anaesthetized guinea pigs. Both thalamic and cortical cells responded with brief increases in firing rate to one, or more, of the 8 main elements present in the chutter call. Almost none of the units responded to all 8 elements. While there were many different combinations of responses to between one and five of the elements, MBG(LF) and AI(LF) neurons exhibited the same specific types of response combinations. Nearby units in the upper layers of the cortex tended to respond to similar combinations of elements while the deep layers were less responsive. Thus, the responses from a number of AI units would need to be combined in order to represent the entire chutter call. Our results don't rule out the possibility of constructive convergence but there was no evidence that a convergence of inputs within AI led to a complete representation of all eight elements.
doi:10.3389/fnsys.2013.00072
PMCID: PMC3812545  PMID: 24198766
vocalization; cortical column; communication; medial geniculate body; guinea pig; temporal processing
10.  Processing of Communication Calls in Guinea Pig Auditory Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51646.
Vocal communication is an important aspect of guinea pig behaviour and a large contributor to their acoustic environment. We postulated that some cortical areas have distinctive roles in processing conspecific calls. In order to test this hypothesis we presented exemplars from all ten of their main adult vocalizations to urethane anesthetised animals while recording from each of the eight areas of the auditory cortex. We demonstrate that the primary area (AI) and three adjacent auditory belt areas contain many units that give isomorphic responses to vocalizations. These are the ventrorostral belt (VRB), the transitional belt area (T) that is ventral to AI and the small area (area S) that is rostral to AI. Area VRB has a denser representation of cells that are better at discriminating among calls by using either a rate code or a temporal code than any other area. Furthermore, 10% of VRB cells responded to communication calls but did not respond to stimuli such as clicks, broadband noise or pure tones. Area S has a sparse distribution of call responsive cells that showed excellent temporal locking, 31% of which selectively responded to a single call. AI responded well to all vocalizations and was much more responsive to vocalizations than the adjacent dorsocaudal core area. Areas VRB, AI and S contained units with the highest levels of mutual information about call stimuli. Area T also responded well to some calls but seems to be specialized for low sound levels. The two dorsal belt areas are comparatively unresponsive to vocalizations and contain little information about the calls. AI projects to areas S, VRB and T, so there may be both rostral and ventral pathways for processing vocalizations in the guinea pig.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051646
PMCID: PMC3520958  PMID: 23251604
11.  Neuromagnetic Indicators of Tinnitus and Tinnitus Masking in Patients with and without Hearing Loss 
Tinnitus is an auditory phenomenon characterised by the perception of a sound in the absence of an external auditory stimulus. Chronic subjective tinnitus is almost certainly maintained via central mechanisms, and this is consistent with observed measures of altered spontaneous brain activity. A number of putative central auditory mechanisms for tinnitus have been proposed. The influential thalamocortical dysrhythmia model suggests that tinnitus can be attributed to the disruption of coherent oscillatory activity between thalamus and cortex following hearing loss. However, the extent to which this disruption specifically contributes to tinnitus or is simply a consequence of the hearing loss is unclear because the necessary matched controls have not been tested. Here, we rigorously test several predictions made by this model in four groups of participants (tinnitus with hearing loss, tinnitus with clinically normal hearing, no tinnitus with hearing loss and no tinnitus with clinically normal hearing). Magnetoencephalography was used to measure oscillatory brain activity within different frequency bands in a ‘resting’ state and during presentation of a masking noise. Results revealed that low-frequency activity in the delta band (1–4 Hz) was significantly higher in the ‘tinnitus with hearing loss’ group compared to the ‘no tinnitus with normal hearing’ group. A planned comparison indicated that this effect was unlikely to be driven by the hearing loss alone, but could possibly be a consequence of tinnitus and hearing loss. A further interpretative linkage to tinnitus was given by the result that the delta activity tended to reduce when tinnitus was masked. High-frequency activity in the gamma band (25–80 Hz) was not correlated with tinnitus (or hearing loss). The findings partly support the thalamocortical dysrhythmia model and suggest that slow-wave (delta band) activity may be a more reliable correlate of tinnitus than high-frequency activity.
doi:10.1007/s10162-012-0340-5
PMCID: PMC3441951  PMID: 22791191
thalamocortical dysrhythmia; tinnitus masking; magnetoencephalography; cortical oscillations
12.  Morphological and Physiological Characteristics of Laminar Cells in the Central Nucleus of the Inferior Colliculus 
The central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (IC) is organized into a series of fibro-dendritic laminae, orthogonal to the tonotopic progression. Many neurons have their dendrites confined to one lamina while others have dendrites that cross over a number of laminae. Here, we have used juxtacellular labeling in urethane anesthetized guinea pigs to visualize the cells with biocytin and have analyzed their response properties, in order to try and link their structure and function. Out of a sample of 38 filled cells, 15 had dendrites confined within the fibro-dendritic laminae and in 13 we were also able to reconstruct their local axonal tree. Based on dendritic morphology they were subdivided into flat or less flat; small, medium, or large; elongated or disk-shaped cells. Two of the elongated cells had many dendritic spines while the other cells had few or none. Twelve of the cells had their local axonal tree restricted to the same lamina as their dendrites while one cell had its dendrites in a separate lamina from the axon. The axonal plexus was more extensive (width 0.7–1.4 mm) within the lamina than the dendrites (width generally 0.07–0.53 mm). The intrinsic axons were largely confined to a single lamina within the central nucleus, but at least half the cells also had output axons with two heading for the commissure and five heading into the brachium. We were able to identify similarities in the physiological response profiles of small groups of our filled cells but none appeared to represent a homogeneous morphological cell type. The only common feature of our sample was one of exclusion in that the onset response, a response commonly recorded from IC cells, was never seen in laminar cells, but was in cells with a stellate morphology. Thus cells with laminar dendrites have a wide variety of physiological responses and morphological subtypes, but over 90% have an extensive local axonal tree within their local lamina.
doi:10.3389/fncir.2012.00055
PMCID: PMC3422721  PMID: 22933991
inferior colliculus; microcircuits; fibro-dendritic laminae; flat cells; juxtacellular labeling; neuronal reconstruction; intrinsic axon
13.  Re-examining the relationship between audiometric profile and tinnitus pitch 
Objective: We explored the relationship between audiogram shape and tinnitus pitch to answer questions arising from neurophysiological models of tinnitus: ‘Is the dominant tinnitus pitch associated with the edge of hearing loss?’ and ‘Is such a relationship more robust in people with narrow tinnitus bandwidth or steep sloping hearing loss?’ Design: A broken-stick fitting objectively quantified slope, degree and edge of hearing loss up to 16 kHz. Tinnitus pitch was characterized up to 12 kHz. We used correlation and multiple regression analyses for examining relationships with many potentially predictive audiometric variables. Study Sample: 67 people with chronic bilateral tinnitus (43 men and 24 women, aged from 22 to 81 years). Results: In this ample of 67 subjects correlation failed to reveal any relationship between the tinnitus pitch and the edge frequency. The tinnitus pitch generally fell within the area of hearing loss. The pitch of the tinnitus in a subset of subjects with a narrow tinnitus bandwidth (n = 23) was associated with the audiometric edge. Conclusions: Our findings concerning subjects with narrow tinnitus bandwidth suggest that this can be used as an a priori inclusion criterion. A large group of such subjects should be tested to confirm these results.
doi:10.3109/14992027.2010.551221
PMCID: PMC3082165  PMID: 21388238
Audiogram; Audiometric edge; Correlation; Principal components; Multiple regression
14.  Forward Masking Estimated by Signal Detection Theory Analysis of Neuronal Responses in Primary Auditory Cortex 
Psychophysical forward masking is an increase in threshold of detection of a sound (probe) when it is preceded by another sound (masker). This is reminiscent of the reduction in neuronal responses to a sound following prior stimulation. Studies in the auditory nerve and cochlear nucleus using signal detection theory techniques to derive neuronal thresholds showed that in centrally projecting neurons, increases in masked thresholds were significantly smaller than the changes measured psychophysically. Larger threshold shifts have been reported in the inferior colliculus of awake marmoset. The present study investigated the magnitude of forward masking in primary auditory cortical neurons of anaesthetised guinea-pigs. Responses of cortical neurons to unmasked and forward masked tones were measured and probe detection thresholds estimated using signal detection theory methods. Threshold shifts were larger than in the auditory nerve, cochlear nucleus and inferior colliculus. The larger threshold shifts suggest that central, and probably cortical, processes contribute to forward masking. However, although methodological differences make comparisons difficult, the threshold shifts in cortical neurons were, in contrast to subcortical nuclei, actually larger than those observed psychophysically. Masking was largely attributable to a reduction in the responses to the probe, rather than either a persistence of the masker responses or an increase in the variability of probe responses.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0215-6
PMCID: PMC2914239  PMID: 20369270
forward masking; primary auditory cortex; guinea pig; signal detection theory
15.  Forward Masking Estimated by Signal Detection Theory Analysis of Neuronal Responses in Primary Auditory Cortex 
Psychophysical forward masking is an increase in threshold of detection of a sound (probe) when it is preceded by another sound (masker). This is reminiscent of the reduction in neuronal responses to a sound following prior stimulation. Studies in the auditory nerve and cochlear nucleus using signal detection theory techniques to derive neuronal thresholds showed that in centrally projecting neurons, increases in masked thresholds were significantly smaller than the changes measured psychophysically. Larger threshold shifts have been reported in the inferior colliculus of awake marmoset. The present study investigated the magnitude of forward masking in primary auditory cortical neurons of anaesthetised guinea-pigs. Responses of cortical neurons to unmasked and forward masked tones were measured and probe detection thresholds estimated using signal detection theory methods. Threshold shifts were larger than in the auditory nerve, cochlear nucleus and inferior colliculus. The larger threshold shifts suggest that central, and probably cortical, processes contribute to forward masking. However, although methodological differences make comparisons difficult, the threshold shifts in cortical neurons were, in contrast to subcortical nuclei, actually larger than those observed psychophysically. Masking was largely attributable to a reduction in the responses to the probe, rather than either a persistence of the masker responses or an increase in the variability of probe responses.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0215-6
PMCID: PMC2914239  PMID: 20369270
forward masking; primary auditory cortex; guinea pig; signal detection theory
16.  Variation in the Phase of Response to Low-Frequency Pure Tones in the Guinea Pig Auditory Nerve as Functions of Stimulus Level and Frequency 
The directionality of hair cell stimulation combined with the vibration of the basilar membrane causes the auditory nerve fiber action potentials, in response to low-frequency stimuli, to occur at a particular phase of the stimulus waveform. Because direct mechanical measurements at the cochlear apex are difficult, such phase locking has often been used to indirectly infer the basilar membrane motion. Here, we confirm and extend earlier data from mammals using sine wave stimulation over a wide range of sound levels (up to 90 dB sound pressure level). We recorded phase-locked responses to pure tones over a wide range of frequencies and sound levels of a large population of auditory nerve fibers in the anesthetized guinea pig. The results indicate that, for a constant frequency of stimulation, the phase lag decreases with increases in the characteristic frequency (CF) of the nerve fiber. The phase lag decreases up to a CF above the stimulation frequency, beyond which it decreases at a much slower rate. Such phase changes are consistent with known basal cochlear mechanics. Measurements from individual fibers showed smaller but systematic variations in phase with sound level, confirming previous reports. We found a “null” stimulation frequency at which little variation in phase occurred with sound level. This null frequency was often not at the CF. At stimulation frequencies below the null, there was a progressive lag with sound level and a progressive lead for stimulation frequencies above the null. This was maximally 0.2 cycles.
doi:10.1007/s10162-008-0151-x
PMCID: PMC2674197  PMID: 19093151
auditory nerve; phase response; basilar membrane; guinea pig
17.  Responses to Diotic, Dichotic, and Alternating Phase Harmonic Stimuli in the Inferior Colliculus of Guinea Pigs 
Humans perceive a harmonic series as a single auditory object with a pitch equivalent to the fundamental frequency (F0) of the series. When harmonics are presented to alternate ears, the repetition rate of the waveform at each ear doubles. If the harmonics are resolved, then the pitch perceived is still equivalent to F0, suggesting the stimulus is binaurally integrated before pitch is processed. However, unresolved harmonics give rise to the doubling of pitch which would be expected from monaural processing (Bernstein and Oxenham, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 113:3323–3334, 2003). We used similar stimuli to record responses of multi-unit clusters in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (IC) of anesthetized guinea pigs (urethane supplemented by fentanyl/fluanisone) to determine the nature of the representation of harmonic stimuli and to what extent there was binaural integration. We examined both the temporal and rate-tuning of IC clusters and found no evidence for binaural integration. Stimuli comprised all harmonics below 10 kHz with fundamental frequencies (F0) from 50 to 400 Hz in half-octave steps. In diotic conditions, all the harmonics were presented to both ears. In dichotic conditions, odd harmonics were presented to one ear and even harmonics to the other. Neural characteristic frequencies (CF, n = 85) were from 0.2 to 14.7 kHz; 29 had CFs below 1 kHz. The majority of clusters responded predominantly to the contralateral ear, with the dominance of the contralateral ear increasing with CF. With diotic stimuli, over half of the clusters (58%) had peaked firing rate vs. F0 functions. The most common peak F0 was 141 Hz. Almost all (98%) clusters phase locked diotically to an F0 of 50 Hz, and approximately 40% of clusters still phase locked significantly (Rayleigh coefficient >13.8) at the highest F0 tested (400 Hz). These results are consistent with the previous reports of responses to amplitude-modulated stimuli. Clusters phase locked significantly at a frequency equal to F0 for contralateral and diotic stimuli but at 2F0 for dichotic stimuli. We interpret these data as responses following the envelope periodicity in monaural channels rather than as a binaurally integrated representation.
doi:10.1007/s10162-008-0149-4
PMCID: PMC2644390  PMID: 19089495
pitch; unresolved harmonics; binaural; integration; alternating phase
18.  Contributions of Intrinsic Neural and Stimulus Variance to Binaural Sensitivity 
The discrimination of a change in a stimulus is determined both by the magnitude of that change and by the variability in the neural response to the stimulus. When the stimulus is itself noisy, then the relative contributions of the neural (intrinsic) and stimulus induced variability becomes a critical question. We measured the contribution of intrinsic neural noise and interstimulus variability to the discrimination of interaural time differences (ITDs) and interaural correlation (IAC). We measured discharge rate versus characteristic frequency (CF) tone ITD functions, and CF-centered narrowband noise ITD and IAC functions in interleaved blocks in the same units in the inferior colliculus of urethane-anesthetized guinea pigs. Ten “frozen” tokens of noise were synthesized and the responses to each token were separately analyzed to allow the relative contributions of intrinsic and stimulus variability to be assessed. ITD and IAC discrimination thresholds were determined for a simulated two-interval forced-choice experiment, based on the firing rate distributions, using receiver operating characteristic analysis. On average, between stimulus variability contributed 19% (range, 1.5–30%) of the variance in noise ITD discrimination and 27% (range, 3–50%) in IAC discrimination. Noise ITD thresholds were slightly higher than tone ITD thresholds. Taking the mean of the thresholds for individual noise tokens gave a similar result to pooling across all noise tokens. This implies that although the stimulus induced variability is measurable, it is insignificant in relation to the intrinsic noise in ITD and IAC discrimination.
doi:10.1007/s10162-006-0054-7
PMCID: PMC2504630  PMID: 17053864
binaural; discrimination; guinea pig; inferior colliculus; interaural correlation; jnd; interaural time difference (ITD); intrinsic variability; stimulus variability
19.  Sensitivity to Interaural Correlation of Single Neurons in the Inferior Colliculusof Guinea Pigs 
Sensitivity to changes in the interaural correlation of 50-ms bursts of narrowband or broadband noise was measured in single neurons in the inferior colliculus of urethane-anaesthetized guinea pigs. Rate vs. interaural correlation functions (rICFs) were measured using two methods. These methods compensated in different ways for the inherent variance in interaural correlation between tokens with the same expected correlation. The shape of all rICFs could be best described by power functions allowing them to be summarized by two parameters. Most rICFs were best fit by a power below 2, indicating that they were only slightly nonlinear. However, there were a few fitted functions that had a power of 3–6, indicating marked curvature. Modeling results indicate that the nonlinearity of the majority of rICFs was explicable in terms of the monaural transduction stages; however, some of the rICFs with power greater than 2 require either multiple inputs to the coincidence detector or additional nonlinearities to be included in the model. Discrimination thresholds were estimated at reference correlations of −1, 0, and +1 using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis of the spike-count distribution at each correlation. Thresholds spanned the full possible range, from a minimum of 0.1 to the maximum possible of 2. Thresholds were generally highest with a reference correlation of −1, intermediate with a reference of 0, and lowest with a reference correlation of +1. Thresholds were lowest for the most steeply sloped rICFs, but thresholds were not strongly correlated to the spike rate variance. The lowest thresholds occurred using narrowband noise that was compensated for internal delays, but they were still about three times larger than human psychophysical thresholds measured using similar stimuli. The data suggest that, unlike pure tone interaural time difference, discrimination of a population measure is required to account for behavioral interaural correlation discrimination performance.
doi:10.1007/s10162-005-0005-8
PMCID: PMC2504597  PMID: 16080025
interaural correlation; jnd; discrimination threshold; inferior colliculus; guinea pig; binaural
20.  Onset Neurones in the Anteroventral Cochlear Nucleus Project to the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus 
Considerable circumstantial evidence suggests that cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus, that respond predominantly to the onset of pure tone bursts, have a stellate morphology and project, among other places, to the dorsal cochlear nucleus. The characteristics of such cells make them leading candidates for providing the so-called “wideband inhibitory input” which is an essential part of the processing machinery of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. Here we use juxtacellular labeling with biocytin to demonstrate directly that large stellate cells, with onset responses, terminate profusely in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. They also provide widespread local innervation of the anteroventral cochlear nucleus and a small innervation of the posteroventral cochlear nucleus. In addition, some onset cells project to the contralateral dorsal cochlear nucleus.
doi:10.1007/s10162-003-4036-8
PMCID: PMC2538402  PMID: 15357418
stellate cells; anteroventral cochlear nucleus; dorsal cochlear nucleus; wideband inhibitor; onset responses
21.  Forward suppression in the auditory cortex is frequency-specific 
The European Journal of Neuroscience  2011;33(7):1240-1251.
We investigated how physiologically observed forward suppression interacts with stimulus frequency in neuronal responses in the guinea pig auditory cortex. The temporal order and frequency proximity of sounds influence both their perception and neuronal responses. Psychophysically, preceding sounds (conditioners) can make successive sounds (probes) harder to hear. These effects are larger when the two sounds are spectrally similar. Physiological forward suppression is usually maximal for conditioner tones near to a unit's characteristic frequency (CF), the frequency to which a neuron is most sensitive. However, in most physiological studies, the frequency of the probe tone and CF are identical, so the role of unit CF and probe frequency cannot be distinguished. Here, we systemically varied the frequency of the probe tone, and found that the tuning of suppression was often more closely related to the frequency of the probe tone than to the unit's CF, i.e. suppressed tuning was specific to probe frequency. This relationship was maintained for all measured gaps between the conditioner and the probe tones. However, when the probe frequency and CF were similar, CF tended to determine suppressed tuning. In addition, the bandwidth of suppression was slightly wider for off-CF probes. Changes in tuning were also reflected in the firing rate in response to probe tones, which was maximally reduced when probe and conditioner tones were matched in frequency. These data are consistent with the idea that cortical neurons receive convergent inputs with a wide range of tuning properties that can adapt independently.
doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07568.x
PMCID: PMC3108068  PMID: 21226777
auditory cortex; context dependence; forward suppression; frequency specificity; guinea pig
22.  Classification of frequency response areas in the inferior colliculus reveals continua not discrete classes 
The Journal of Physiology  2013;591(16):4003-4025.
A differential response to sound frequency is a fundamental property of auditory neurons. Frequency analysis in the cochlea gives rise to V-shaped tuning functions in auditory nerve fibres, but by the level of the inferior colliculus (IC), the midbrain nucleus of the auditory pathway, neuronal receptive fields display diverse shapes that reflect the interplay of excitation and inhibition. The origin and nature of these frequency receptive field types is still open to question. One proposed hypothesis is that the frequency response class of any given neuron in the IC is predominantly inherited from one of three major afferent pathways projecting to the IC, giving rise to three distinct receptive field classes. Here, we applied subjective classification, principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and other objective statistical measures, to a large population (2826) of frequency response areas from single neurons recorded in the IC of the anaesthetised guinea pig. Subjectively, we recognised seven frequency response classes (V-shaped, non-monotonic Vs, narrow, closed, tilt down, tilt up and double-peaked), that were represented at all frequencies. We could identify similar classes using our objective classification tools. Importantly, however, many neurons exhibited properties intermediate between these classes, and none of the objective methods used here showed evidence of discrete response classes. Thus receptive field shapes in the IC form continua rather than discrete classes, a finding consistent with the integration of afferent inputs in the generation of frequency response areas. The frequency disposition of inhibition in the response areas of some neurons suggests that across-frequency inputs originating at or below the level of the IC are involved in their generation.
doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.255943
PMCID: PMC3764642  PMID: 23753527

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