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Brain Res. 1976 Feb 20;103(2):313-38.

Single unit study of binaural interaction in the auditory cortex of the chinchilla.


The primary aim of this investigation was to systematically compare for various stimulus conditions the relative influences of contralateral and ipsilateral acoustic stimulation on cortical single units in an unanesthetized preparation and to study the effects upon single unit responses of the dominant stimulus cues for sound localization--interaural intensity difference (deltaI) and interaural time difference (deltat). Recordings were obtained from 133 units in chinchillas immobilized by gallamine triethiodide. All units were found to be influenced by input from both ears. Unit thresholds for contralateral stimulation were lower and more discharges were elicited than for ipsilateral stimulation over a range of intensities from unit threshold intensity to 80 dB sound-pressure level. A predominance of contralateral influence was also observed when the number of stimulus-evoked discharges was plotted as a function of the deltaI or deltat. For 62% of the deltaI functions maximal responsiveness occurred for binaural stimuli that were more intense at the contralateral ear. Similarly, of the 36 units that showed sensitivity to deltat parameters for tone stimuli, 22 (61%) were maximally responsive at the contralateral-leading deltat intervals. For click stimuli, maximal responsiveness for all 21 deltat-sensitive units also occured for contralateral-leading stimuli. Certain observations in the study question the generality of the hypothesis that a particular cell invariantly encodes a specific deltat, i.e., that cells have 'characteristic delays'. First, most units tested at more than two frequencies showed maximal responsiveness at different deltat intervals depending upon stimulus frequency. Second, the deltat intervals for maximal responsiveness for half of the units tested were greater than the maximal interaural delays the animal could encounter naturally. Third, deltat functions from the same unit for click and tone stimuli showed poor correspondence. These findings suggest that the encoding of interaural time and intensity might depend on an inter-hemispheric comparison of the activity of neural populations as originally proposed by von Bekesy.

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