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J Neurophysiol. 1990 Aug;64(2):582-97.

Sensitivity to binaural intensity and phase difference cues in kitten inferior colliculus.

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Department of Neurophysiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53705.


1. Responses of single neurons to monaural or binaural CF tones delivered through a closed and calibrated sound delivery system were studied in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) in ketamine and barbiturate-anesthetized kittens 4-105 days old. 2. Neurons from young kittens had elevated thresholds, some greater than 100 dB in the youngest kittens tested. Average thresholds in the ICC matched those previously measured in the auditory nerve (AN), cochlear nuclei (CN), and auditory cortex (CTX), suggesting that the drop in threshold as a function of age is primarily determined by development at the periphery. 3. Minimal first-spike latencies were relatively long in the youngest kittens, approaching adult values by the end of the third postnatal week. Latencies were distributed between values previously determined for the CN and auditory cortex and can be attributed to the centripetal development of the auditory system. 4. The range of frequencies that were effective in exciting ICC neurons was restricted in young kittens. Neurons having characteristic frequencies (CFs) greater than 7 kHz were not recorded before postnatal day 10. CF distribution matched that obtained in previous experiments from AN, CN, and CTX, reflecting the development of the cochlea. 5. Both monotonic and nonomonotonic spike count-versus-intensity functions were found in the youngest kittens. There was a tendency for monotonic functions from the youngest kittens to be steeper than those from older kittens. No age-related changes in the shapes of non-monotonic functions were found. 6. Sensitivity to interaural intensity difference (IID), tested by holding the intensity to the excitatory ear at a suprathreshold level and increasing the intensity of the stimulus to the inhibitory ear, was exhibited as early as 8 days after birth. The majority of the cells exhibiting sensitivity to IID (89.5%) were classified as EI cells, and almost all IID sensitive cells had CFs between 3 and 25 kHz. Within our sample the shapes of IID functions, as well as the operating range of the IID functions, closely resembled those obtained from the adult cat. Thresholds of excitation and of inhibition were highly correlated, suggesting that the ipsilateral and contralateral inputs to the ICC develop as a matched set. 7. Sensitivity to interaural phase difference (IPD), tested either by shifting the onset phase of a CF tone to one ear relative to the other or by presenting tones of slightly different frequency to the two ears, was present as early as 12 days after birth.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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