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Exp Brain Res. 2000 Jul;133(2):254-66.

Response properties of neurons in the central nucleus and external and dorsal cortices of the inferior colliculus in guinea pig.

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Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague.


The inferior colliculus (IC) represents a mid-brain structure which integrates information from many ascending auditory pathways, descending corticotectal projections and intercollicular pathways. The processing of information is different in each of the three main subdivisions of the IC--the central nucleus (CNIC), the dorsal cortex (DCIC) and the external cortex (ECIC)--which may be distinguished morphologically as well as by different inputs and outputs. To assess the differences in information processing we compared the response properties of single neurons in individual subnuclei of the IC in anesthetized guinea pigs. In comparison with DCIC and ECIC neurons, the CNIC neurons as a group were characterized by a sharper frequency tuning (as expressed by Q10 values), a lower average threshold, a shorter average first-spike latency of response to tones at the characteristic frequency (CF), a higher occurrence of non-monotonic rate/level functions and a higher rate of spontaneous activity. CNIC neurons and DCIC neurons reacted to tones at the CF more frequently by a sustained type of response than did ECIC neurons. The difference between the parameters of DCIC neuronal activity and ECIC neuronal activity was found to be smaller. The frequency tuning (expressed in Q10 values), spontaneous activity and dominance of monotonic rate/level functions were very similar in both structures; ECIC neurons expressed a higher average threshold and a shorter average first-spike latency than did DCIC neurons. Responsiveness expressed as the average maximal firing rate to tones at the CF was significantly higher in the CNIC than in the ECIC. The results give additional support to the idea that the CNIC is a part of a fast, frequency-tuned, low threshold and intensity-sensitive ascending pathway, whereas the other two subdivisions are involved in additional processing of information that involves feedback loops and polysensory pathways.

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