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J Neurophysiol. 2014 Aug 15;112(4):802-13. doi: 10.1152/jn.00044.2013. Epub 2014 May 21.

On the localization of complex sounds: temporal encoding based on input-slope coincidence detection of envelopes.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin; Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York;
2
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York;
3
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York; Department of Biology, New York University, New York, New York; and.
4
Department of Biology, New York University, New York, New York; and Courant Institute of Mathematical Science, New York University, New York, New York rinzeljm@gmail.com.

Abstract

Behavioral and neural findings demonstrate that animals can locate low-frequency sounds along the azimuth by detecting microsecond interaural time differences (ITDs). Information about ITDs is also available in the amplitude modulations (i.e., envelope) of high-frequency sounds. Since medial superior olivary (MSO) neurons encode low-frequency ITDs, we asked whether they employ a similar mechanism to process envelope ITDs with high-frequency carriers, and the effectiveness of this mechanism compared with the process of low-frequency sound. We developed a novel hybrid in vitro dynamic-clamp approach, which enabled us to mimic synaptic input to brain-slice neurons in response to virtual sound and to create conditions that cannot be achieved naturally but are useful for testing our hypotheses. For each simulated ear, a virtual sound, computer generated, was used as input to a computational auditory-nerve model. Model spike times were converted into synaptic input for MSO neurons, and ITD tuning curves were derived for several virtual-sound conditions: low-frequency pure tones, high-frequency tones modulated with two types of envelope, and speech sequences. Computational models were used to verify the physiological findings and explain the biophysical mechanism underlying the observed ITD coding. Both recordings and simulations indicate that MSO neurons are sensitive to ITDs carried by spectrotemporally complex virtual sounds, including speech tokens. Our findings strongly suggest that MSO neurons can encode ITDs across a broad-frequency spectrum using an input-slope-based coincidence-detection mechanism. Our data also provide an explanation at the cellular level for human localization performance involving high-frequency sound described by previous investigators.

KEYWORDS:

Kv1.1; auditory processing; phasic firing; sound localization

PMID:
24848460
PMCID:
PMC4122752
DOI:
10.1152/jn.00044.2013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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