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1.  Minimal Conductance-Based Model of Auditory Coincidence Detector Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122796.
Sound localization is a fundamental sensory function of a wide variety of animals. The interaural time difference (ITD), an important cue for sound localization, is computed in the auditory brainstem. In our previous modeling study, we introduced a two-compartment Hodgkin-Huxley type model to investigate how cellular and synaptic specializations may contribute to precise ITD computation of the barn owl's auditory coincidence detector neuron. Although our model successfully reproduced fundamental physiological properties observed in vivo, it was unsuitable for mathematical analyses and large scale simulations because of a number of nonlinear variables. In the present study, we reduce our former model into three types of conductance-based integrate-and-fire (IF) models. We test their electrophysiological properties using data from published in vivo and in vitro studies. Their robustness to parameter changes and computational efficiencies are also examined. Our numerical results suggest that the single-compartment active IF model is superior to other reduced models in terms of physiological reproducibility and computational performance. This model will allow future theoretical studies that use more rigorous mathematical analysis and network simulations.
PMCID: PMC4386812  PMID: 25844803
2.  Parental genetic effects in a cavefish adaptive behavior explain disparity between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA 
Epigenetic parental genetic effects are important in many biological processes but their roles in the evolution of adaptive traits and their consequences in naturally evolving populations remain to be addressed. By comparing two divergent blind cave-dwelling cavefish populations with a sighted surface-dwelling population (surface fish) of the teleost Astyanax mexicanus, we report here that convergences in vibration attraction behavior (VAB), the lateral line sensory receptors underlying this behavior, and the feeding benefits of this behavior are controlled by parental genetic effects, either maternal or paternal inheritance. From behavioral studies and mathematical evolutionary simulations, we further demonstrate that disparity in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in one of these cavefish populations that has hybridized with surface fish can be explained by paternal inheritance of VAB. The results suggest that parental genetic effects in adaptive behaviors may be important factors in biasing mitochondrial DNA inheritance in natural populations that are subject to introgression.
PMCID: PMC3434958  PMID: 22946818
Cavefish; Vibration attraction behavior; Paternal genetic effects; Maternal genetic effects; Sensory neuromasts; Mitochondrial disparity
3.  Biophysical basis of the sound analog membrane potential that underlies coincidence detection in the barn owl 
Interaural time difference (ITD), or the difference in timing of a sound wave arriving at the two ears, is a fundamental cue for sound localization. A wide variety of animals have specialized neural circuits dedicated to the computation of ITDs. In the avian auditory brainstem, ITDs are encoded as the spike rates in the coincidence detector neurons of the nucleus laminaris (NL). NL neurons compare the binaural phase-locked inputs from the axons of ipsi- and contralateral nucleus magnocellularis (NM) neurons. Intracellular recordings from the barn owl's NL in vivo showed that tonal stimuli induce oscillations in the membrane potential. Since this oscillatory potential resembled the stimulus sound waveform, it was named the sound analog potential (Funabiki et al., 2011). Previous modeling studies suggested that a convergence of phase-locked spikes from NM leads to an oscillatory membrane potential in NL, but how presynaptic, synaptic, and postsynaptic factors affect the formation of the sound analog potential remains to be investigated. In the accompanying paper, we derive analytical relations between these parameters and the signal and noise components of the oscillation. In this paper, we focus on the effects of the number of presynaptic NM fibers, the mean firing rate of these fibers, their average degree of phase-locking, and the synaptic time scale. Theoretical analyses and numerical simulations show that, provided the total synaptic input is kept constant, changes in the number and spike rate of NM fibers alter the ITD-independent noise whereas the degree of phase-locking is linearly converted to the ITD-dependent signal component of the sound analog potential. The synaptic time constant affects the signal more prominently than the noise, making faster synaptic input more suitable for effective ITD computation.
PMCID: PMC3821004  PMID: 24265615
phase-locking; sound localization; auditory brainstem; periodic signals; oscillation; owl
4.  Theoretical foundations of the sound analog membrane potential that underlies coincidence detection in the barn owl 
A wide variety of neurons encode temporal information via phase-locked spikes. In the avian auditory brainstem, neurons in the cochlear nucleus magnocellularis (NM) send phase-locked synaptic inputs to coincidence detector neurons in the nucleus laminaris (NL) that mediate sound localization. Previous modeling studies suggested that converging phase-locked synaptic inputs may give rise to a periodic oscillation in the membrane potential of their target neuron. Recent physiological recordings in vivo revealed that owl NL neurons changed their spike rates almost linearly with the amplitude of this oscillatory potential. The oscillatory potential was termed the sound analog potential, because of its resemblance to the waveform of the stimulus tone. The amplitude of the sound analog potential recorded in NL varied systematically with the interaural time difference (ITD), which is one of the most important cues for sound localization. In order to investigate the mechanisms underlying ITD computation in the NM-NL circuit, we provide detailed theoretical descriptions of how phase-locked inputs form oscillating membrane potentials. We derive analytical expressions that relate presynaptic, synaptic, and postsynaptic factors to the signal and noise components of the oscillation in both the synaptic conductance and the membrane potential. Numerical simulations demonstrate the validity of the theoretical formulations for the entire frequency ranges tested (1–8 kHz) and potential effects of higher harmonics on NL neurons with low best frequencies (<2 kHz).
PMCID: PMC3821005  PMID: 24265616
phase-locking; sound localization; auditory brainstem; periodic signals; oscillation; owl
5.  Sound localization: Jeffress and beyond 
Current opinion in neurobiology  2011;21(5):745-751.
Many animals use the interaural time differences (ITDs) to locate the source of low frequency sounds. The place coding theory proposed by Jeffress has long been a dominant model to account for the neural mechanisms of ITD detection. Recent research, however, suggests a wider range of strategies for ITD coding in the binaural auditory brainstem. We discuss how ITD is coded in avian, mammalian, and reptilian nervous systems, and review underlying synaptic and cellular properties that enable precise temporal computation. The latest advances in recording and analysis techniques provide powerful tools for both overcoming and utilizing the large field potentials in these nuclei.
PMCID: PMC3192259  PMID: 21646012
6.  Effect of Sampling Frequency on the Measurement of Phase-Locked Action Potentials  
Phase-locked spikes in various types of neurons encode temporal information. To quantify the degree of phase-locking, the metric called vector strength (VS) has been most widely used. Since VS is derived from spike timing information, error in measurement of spike occurrence should result in errors in VS calculation. In electrophysiological experiments, the timing of an action potential is detected with finite temporal precision, which is determined by the sampling frequency. In order to evaluate the effects of the sampling frequency on the measurement of VS, we derive theoretical upper and lower bounds of VS from spikes collected with finite sampling rates. We next estimate errors in VS assuming random sampling effects, and show that our theoretical calculation agrees with data from electrophysiological recordings in vivo. Our results provide a practical guide for choosing the appropriate sampling frequency in measuring VS.
PMCID: PMC2955492  PMID: 20953249
vector strength; phase-locking; auditory brainstem; sound localization; temporal coding; circular statistics

Results 1-6 (6)