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Neuron. 2001 Oct 11;32(1):151-60.

Functional convergence of response properties in the auditory thalamocortical system.

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W.M. Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, UCSF/UCB Bioengineering Group, University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


One of the brain's fundamental tasks is to construct and transform representations of an animal's environment, yet few studies describe how individual neurons accomplish this. Our results from correlated pairs in the auditory thalamocortical system show that cortical excitatory receptive field regions can be directly inherited from thalamus, constructed from smaller inputs, and assembled by the cooperative activity of neuronal ensembles. The prevalence of functional thalamocortical connectivity is strictly governed by tonotopy, but connection strength is not. Finally, spectral and temporal modulation preferences in cortex may differ dramatically from the thalamic input. Our observations reveal a radical reconstruction of response properties from auditory thalamus to cortex, and illustrate how some properties are propagated with great fidelity while others are significantly transformed or generated intracortically.

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