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Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Mar;23(6):1623-32.

Roles of the auditory cortex in discrimination learning by rats.

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  • 1Department of Neurophysiology, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University, 1 Asahi-machi, Niigata 951-8585, Japan.


We investigated the roles of the auditory cortex in sound discrimination learning in Wistar rats. Absolute pitch or relative pitch can be used as discrimination cues in sound frequency discrimination. To clarify this, rats were trained to discriminate between rewarded (S+) and unrewarded (S-) test stimuli (S+ frequency>S- frequency). After learning was acquired by rats, performance was tested in a new test in which S+ frequency was constant but S+ frequency<S- frequency, or S+ frequency>S- frequency but both frequencies were increased. If the discrimination cue of the first test was preserved in the new test, performance following change of testing procedures was expected to remain high. The measured performance suggested that rats used relative pitch in half octave discrimination (difference between S+ and S- frequencies, 0.5 octave), and absolute pitch in octave discrimination (difference between S+ and S- frequencies, 1.0 octave). Bilateral lesions in the auditory cortex had almost no effect on performance before procedure change. Furthermore, performance following procedure change was not affected by lesions in the auditory cortex when the discrimination cue was preserved. However, performance was impaired by lesions in the auditory cortex when a new discrimination cue was used following procedure change. Lesions in the auditory cortex also impaired multimodal discrimination between sound and sound plus light. The present findings suggest that the auditory cortex plays a role as a sensory interface of the higher cortices required for flexible learning and multimodal discrimination.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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