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1.  Psychometric characteristics of the Spanish version of instruments to measure neck pain disability 
The NDI, COM and NPQ are evaluation instruments for disability due to NP. There was no Spanish version of NDI or COM for which psychometric characteristics were known. The objectives of this study were to translate and culturally adapt the Spanish version of the Neck Disability Index Questionnaire (NDI), and the Core Outcome Measure (COM), to validate its use in Spanish speaking patients with non-specific neck pain (NP), and to compare their psychometric characteristics with those of the Spanish version of the Northwick Pain Questionnaire (NPQ).
Translation/re-translation of the English versions of the NDI and the COM was done blindly and independently by a multidisciplinary team. The study was done in 9 primary care Centers and 12 specialty services from 9 regions in Spain, with 221 acute, subacute and chronic patients who visited their physician for NP: 54 in the pilot phase and 167 in the validation phase. Neck pain (VAS), referred pain (VAS), disability (NDI, COM and NPQ), catastrophizing (CSQ) and quality of life (SF-12) were measured on their first visit and 14 days later. Patients' self-assessment was used as the external criterion for pain and disability. In the pilot phase, patients' understanding of each item in the NDI and COM was assessed, and on day 1 test-retest reliability was estimated by giving a second NDI and COM in which the name of the questionnaires and the order of the items had been changed.
Comprehensibility of NDI and COM were good. Minutes needed to fill out the questionnaires [median, (P25, P75)]: NDI. 4 (2.2, 10.0), COM: 2.1 (1.0, 4.9). Reliability: [ICC, (95%CI)]: NDI: 0.88 (0.80, 0.93). COM: 0.85 (0.75,0.91). Sensitivity to change: Effect size for patients having worsened, not changed and improved between days 1 and 15, according to the external criterion for disability: NDI: -0.24, 0.15, 0.66; NPQ: -0.14, 0.06, 0.67; COM: 0.05, 0.19, 0.92. Validity: Results of NDI, NPQ and COM were consistent with the external criterion for disability, whereas only those from NDI were consistent with the one for pain. Correlations with VAS, CSQ and SF-12 were similar for NDI and NPQ (absolute values between 0.36 and 0.50 on day 1, between 0.38 and 0.70 on day 15), and slightly lower for COM (between 0.36 and 0.48 on day 1, and between 0.33 and 0.61 on day 15). Correlation between NDI and NPQ: r = 0.84 on day 1, r = 0.91 on day 15. Correlation between COM and NPQ: r = 0.63 on day 1, r = 0.71 on day 15.
Although most psychometric characteristics of NDI, NPQ and COM are similar, those from the latter one are worse and its use may lead to patients' evolution seeming more positive than it actually is. NDI seems to be the best instrument for measuring NP-related disability, since its results are the most consistent with patient's assessment of their own clinical status and evolution. It takes two more minutes to answer the NDI than to answer the COM, but it can be reliably filled out by the patient without assistance.
Trial Registration
Clinical Trials Register NCT00349544.
PMCID: PMC2375887  PMID: 18400084
2.  Cross-Correlation in the Auditory Coincidence Detectors of Owls 
Interaural time difference (ITD) plays a central role in many auditory functions, most importantly in sound localization. The classic model for how ITD is computed was put forth by Jeffress (1948). One of the predictions of the Jeffress model is that the neurons that compute ITD should behave as cross-correlators. Whereas cross-correlation-like properties of the ITD-computing neurons have been reported, attempts to show that the shape of the ITD response function is determined by the spectral tuning of the neuron, a core prediction of cross-correlation, have been unsuccessful. Using reverse correlation analysis, we demonstrate in the barn owl that the relationship between the spectral tuning and the ITD response of the ITD-computing neurons is that predicted by cross-correlation. Moreover, we show that a model of coincidence detector responses derived from responses to binaurally uncorrelated noise is consistent with binaural interaction based on cross-correlation. These results are thus consistent with one of the key tenets of the Jeffress model. Our work sets forth both the methodology to answer whether cross-correlation describes coincidence detector responses and a demonstration that in the barn owl, the result is that expected by theory.
PMCID: PMC2637928  PMID: 18685035
barn owl; interaural time difference; cross-correlation; coincidence detection; sound localization; nucleus laminaris
3.  Noise Reduction of Coincidence Detector Output by the Inferior Colliculus of the Barn Owl 
A recurring theme in theoretical work is that integration over populations of similarly tuned neurons can reduce neural noise. However, there are relatively few demonstrations of an explicit noise reduction mechanism in a neural network. Here we demonstrate that the brainstem of the barn owl includes a stage of processing apparently devoted to increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in the encoding of the interaural time difference (ITD), one of two primary binaural cues used to compute the position of a sound source in space. In the barn owl, the ITD is processed in a dedicated neural pathway that terminates at the core of the inferior colliculus (ICcc). The actual locus of the computation of the ITD is before ICcc in the nucleus laminaris (NL), and ICcc receives no inputs carrying information that did not originate in NL. Unlike in NL, the rate-ITD functions of ICcc neurons require as little as a single stimulus presentation per ITD to show coherent ITD tuning. ICcc neurons also displayed a greater dynamic range with a maximal difference in ITD response rates approximately double that seen in NL. These results indicate that ICcc neurons perform a computation functionally analogous to averaging across a population of similarly tuned NL neurons.
PMCID: PMC2492673  PMID: 16738236
interaural time difference; sound localization; inferior colliculus; nucleus laminaris; barn owl; pooling
4.  Direction Selectivity Mediated by Adaptation in the Owl's Inferior Colliculus 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(49):19167-19175.
Motion direction is a crucial cue for predicting future states in natural scenes. In the auditory system, the mechanisms that confer direction selectivity to neurons are not well understood. Neither is it known whether sound motion is encoded independently of stationary sound location. Here we investigated these questions in neurons of the owl's external nucleus of the inferior colliculus, where auditory space is represented in a map. Using a high-density speaker array, we show that the preferred direction and the degree of direction selectivity can be predicted by response adaptation to sounds moving over asymmetric spatial receptive fields. At the population level, we found that preference for sounds moving toward frontal space increased with eccentricity in spatial tuning. This distribution was consistent with larger receptive-field asymmetry in neurons tuned to more peripheral auditory space. A model of suppression based on spatiotemporal summation predicted the observations. Thus, response adaptation and receptive-field shape can explain direction selectivity to acoustic motion and an orderly distribution of preferred direction.
PMCID: PMC3850040  PMID: 24305813
sound localization; direction selectivity; adaptation; map of space
5.  Spike-Threshold Adaptation Predicted by Membrane Potential Dynamics In Vivo 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(4):e1003560.
Neurons encode information in sequences of spikes, which are triggered when their membrane potential crosses a threshold. In vivo, the spiking threshold displays large variability suggesting that threshold dynamics have a profound influence on how the combined input of a neuron is encoded in the spiking. Threshold variability could be explained by adaptation to the membrane potential. However, it could also be the case that most threshold variability reflects noise and processes other than threshold adaptation. Here, we investigated threshold variation in auditory neurons responses recorded in vivo in barn owls. We found that spike threshold is quantitatively predicted by a model in which the threshold adapts, tracking the membrane potential at a short timescale. As a result, in these neurons, slow voltage fluctuations do not contribute to spiking because they are filtered by threshold adaptation. More importantly, these neurons can only respond to input spikes arriving together on a millisecond timescale. These results demonstrate that fast adaptation to the membrane potential captures spike threshold variability in vivo.
Author Summary
Neurons spike when their membrane potential exceeds a threshold value, but this value has been shown to be variable in the same neuron recorded in vivo. This variability could reflect noise, or deterministic processes that make the threshold vary with the membrane potential. The second alternative would have important functional consequences. Here, we show that threshold variability is a genuine feature of neurons, which reflects adaptation to the membrane potential at a short timescale, with little contribution from noise. This demonstrates that a deterministic model can predict spikes based only on the membrane potential.
PMCID: PMC3983065  PMID: 24722397
6.  Multiplicative Auditory Spatial Receptive Fields Created by a Hierarchy of Population Codes 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e8015.
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.
PMCID: PMC2776990  PMID: 19956693
7.  Endocannabinoid-Mediated Long-Term Depression in the Avian Midbrain Expressed Presynaptically and Postsynaptically 
Here, we examined long-term synaptic plasticity in the avian auditory midbrain, a region involved in experience-dependent learning.We found that coactivation of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) and type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R) induces long-term depression (LTD) at the synapse between the central shell and the external portion of the inferior colliculus of the chicken. Although endocannabinoids are commonly thought of as presynaptic modulators, recent reports have suggested that they can also modulate the postsynaptic site. In the avian midbrain, we found that LTD is mediated by both presynaptic and postsynaptic changes. The presynaptic mechanism consists of a decrease in neurotransmitter release, whereas a depression of NMDAR-mediated current takes place on the postsynaptic side. Both the presynaptic and the postsynaptic effects depend on CB1R activation. The reduction of postsynaptic NMDAR currents represents a novel role of endocannabinoids in synaptic modulation.
PMCID: PMC2715273  PMID: 19339608
8.  Comparison of Midbrain and Thalamic Space-Specific Neurons in Barn Owls 
Journal of neurophysiology  2006;95(2):783-790.
Spatial receptive fields of neurons in the auditory pathway of the barn owl result from the sensitivity to combinations of interaural time (ITD) and level differences across stimulus frequency. Both the forebrain and tectum of the owl contain such neurons. The neural pathways, which lead to the forebrain and tectal representations of auditory space, separate before the midbrain map of auditory space is synthesized. The first nuclei that belong exclusively to either the forebrain or the tectal pathways are the nucleus ovoidalis (Ov) and the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICx), respectively. Both receive projections from the lateral shell subdivision of the inferior colliculus but are not interconnected. Previous studies indicate that the owl’s tectal representation of auditory space is different from those found in the owl’s forebrain and the mammalian brain. We addressed the question of whether the computation of spatial cues in both pathways is the same by comparing the ITD tuning of Ov and ICx neurons. Unlike in ICx, the relationship between frequency and ITD tuning had not been studied in single Ov units. In contrast to the conspicuous frequency independent ITD tuning of space-specific neurons of ICx, ITD selectivity varied with frequency in Ov. We also observed that the spatially tuned neurons of Ov respond to lower frequencies and are more broadly tuned to ITD than in ICx. Thus there are differences in the integration of frequency and ITD in the two sound-localization pathways. Thalamic neurons integrate spatial information not only within a broader frequency band but also across ITD channels.
PMCID: PMC2532520  PMID: 16424454
9.  Emergence of Multiplicative Auditory Responses in the Midbrain of the Barn Owl 
Journal of neurophysiology  2007;98(3):1181-1193.
Space-specific neurons in the barn owl’s auditory space map gain spatial selectivity through tuning to combinations of the interaural time difference (ITD) and interaural level difference (ILD). The combination of ITD and ILD in the subthreshold responses of space-specific neurons in the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICx) is well described by a multiplication of ITD- and ILD-dependent components. It is unknown, however, how ITD and ILD are combined at the site of ITD and ILD convergence in the lateral shell of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICcl) and therefore whether ICx is the first site in the auditory pathway where multiplicative tuning to ITD-and ILD-dependent signals occurs. We used extracellular re-cording of single neurons to determine how ITD and ILD are combined in ICcl of the anesthetized barn owl (Tyto alba). A comparison of additive, multiplicative, and linear-threshold models of neural responses shows that ITD and ILD are combined nonlinearly in ICcl, but the interaction of ITD and ILD is not uniformly multiplicative over the sample. A subset (61%) of the neural responses is well described by the multiplicative model, indicating that ICcl is the first site where multiplicative tuning to ITD- and ILD-dependent signals occurs. ICx, however, is the first site where multiplicative tuning is observed consistently. A network model shows that a linear combination of ICcl responses to ITD–ILD pairs is sufficient to produce the multiplicative subthreshold responses to ITD and ILD seen in ICx.
PMCID: PMC2532518  PMID: 17615132
10.  Preservation of Spectrotemporal Tuning Between the Nucleus Laminaris and the Inferior Colliculus of the Barn Owl 
Journal of neurophysiology  2007;97(5):3544-3553.
Performing sound recognition is a task that requires an encoding of the time-varying spectral structure of the auditory stimulus. Similarly, computation of the interaural time difference (ITD) requires knowledge of the precise timing of the stimulus. Consistent with this, low-level nuclei of birds and mammals implicated in ITD processing encode the ongoing phase of a stimulus. However, the brain areas that follow the binaural convergence for the computation of ITD show a reduced capacity for phase locking. In addition, we have shown that in the barn owl there is a pooling of ITD-responsive neurons to improve the reliability of ITD coding. Here we demonstrate that despite two stages of convergence and an effective loss of phase information, the auditory system of the anesthetized barn owl displays a graceful transition to an envelope coding that preserves the spectrotemporal information throughout the ITD pathway to the neurons of the core of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus.
PMCID: PMC2532515  PMID: 17314241

Results 1-10 (10)