► 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.
Tinnitus; Guinea pig; Preyer reflex; Pinna reflex; Gap detection; Prepulse inhibition; Sodium salicylate; Whole-body startle
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.
inferior colliculus; microcircuits; fibro-dendritic laminae; flat cells; juxtacellular labeling; neuronal reconstruction; intrinsic axon
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.
auditory cortex; cooling inactivation; cryoloop; thallium autometallography
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.
auditory nerve; phase response; basilar membrane; guinea pig
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.
pitch; unresolved harmonics; binaural; integration; alternating phase
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.
binaural; discrimination; guinea pig; inferior colliculus; interaural correlation; jnd; interaural time difference (ITD); intrinsic variability; stimulus variability
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.
interaural correlation; jnd; discrimination threshold; inferior colliculus; guinea pig; binaural
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.
stellate cells; anteroventral cochlear nucleus; dorsal cochlear nucleus; wideband inhibitor; onset responses