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J Neurophysiol. 2003 Oct;90(4):2660-75. Epub 2003 Jun 18.

Spectrotemporal structure of receptive fields in areas AI and AAF of mouse auditory cortex.

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  • 1Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


The mouse is a promising model system for auditory cortex research because of the powerful genetic tools available for manipulating its neural circuitry. Previous studies have identified two tonotopic auditory areas in the mouse-primary auditory cortex (AI) and anterior auditory field (AAF)- but auditory receptive fields in these areas have not yet been described. To establish a foundation for investigating auditory cortical circuitry and plasticity in the mouse, we characterized receptive-field structure in AI and AAF of anesthetized mice using spectrally complex and temporally dynamic stimuli as well as simple tonal stimuli. Spectrotemporal receptive fields (STRFs) were derived from extracellularly recorded responses to complex stimuli, and frequency-intensity tuning curves were constructed from responses to simple tonal stimuli. Both analyses revealed temporal differences between AI and AAF responses: peak latencies and receptive-field durations for STRFs and first-spike latencies for responses to tone bursts were significantly longer in AI than in AAF. Spectral properties of AI and AAF receptive fields were more similar, although STRF bandwidths were slightly broader in AI than in AAF. Finally, in both AI and AAF, a substantial minority of STRFs were spectrotemporally inseparable. The spectrotemporal interaction typically appeared in the form of clearly disjoint excitatory and inhibitory subfields or an obvious spectrotemporal slant in the STRF. These data provide the first detailed description of auditory receptive fields in the mouse and suggest that although neurons in areas AI and AAF share many response characteristics, area AAF may be specialized for faster temporal processing.

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