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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Apr;1225:142-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06023.x.

Taking advantage of behavioral changes during development and training to assess sensory coding mechanisms.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, USA.


The relationship between behavioral and neural performance has been explored in adult animals, but rarely during the developmental period when perceptual abilities emerge. We used these naturally occurring changes in auditory perception to evaluate underlying encoding mechanisms. Performance of juvenile and adult gerbils on an amplitude modulation (AM) detection task was compared with response properties from auditory cortex of age-matched animals. When tested with an identical behavioral procedure, juveniles display poorer AM detection thresholds than adults. Two neurometric analyses indicate that the most sensitive juvenile and adult neurons have equivalent AM thresholds. However, a pooling neurometric revealed that adult cortex encodes smaller AM depths. By each measure, neural sensitivity was superior to psychometric thresholds. However, juvenile training improved adult behavioral thresholds, such that they verged on the best sensitivity of adult neurons. Thus, periods of training may allow an animal to use the encoded information already present in cortex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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