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Nat Neurosci. 1998 May;1(1):54-8.

Corticofugal modulation of the midbrain frequency map in the bat auditory system.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


The auditory system, like the visual and somatosensory systems, contains topographic maps in its central neural pathways. These maps can be modified by sensory deprivation, injury and experience in both young and adult animals. Such plasticity has been explained by changes in the divergent and convergent projections of the ascending sensory system. Another possibility, however, is that plasticity may be mediated by descending corticofugal connections. We have investigated the role of descending connections from the cortex to the inferior colliculus of the big brown bat. Electrical stimulation of the auditory cortex causes a downward shift in the preferred frequencies of collicular neurons toward that of the stimulated cortical neurons. This results in a change in the frequency map within the colliculus. Moreover, similar changes can be induced by repeated bursts of sound at moderate intensities. Thus, one role of the mammalian corticofugal system may be to modify subcortical sensory maps in response to sensory experience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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