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Trends Neurosci. 2014 Sep;37(9):502-10. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jul 4.

Local versus global scales of organization in auditory cortex.

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Department of Biology, Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Neurobiology, Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel. Electronic address:
Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA; Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Electronic address:


Topographic organization is a hallmark of sensory cortical organization. Topography is robust at spatial scales ranging from hundreds of microns to centimeters, but can dissolve at the level of neighboring neurons or subcellular compartments within a neuron. This dichotomous spatial organization is especially pronounced in the mouse auditory cortex, where an orderly tonotopic map can arise from heterogeneous frequency tuning between local neurons. Here, we address a debate surrounding the robustness of tonotopic organization in the auditory cortex that has persisted in some form for over 40 years. Drawing from various cortical areas, cortical layers, recording methodologies, and species, we describe how auditory cortical circuitry can simultaneously support a globally systematic, yet locally heterogeneous representation of this fundamental sound property.


auditory cortex; calcium; electrophysiology; frequency; heterogeneity; homogeneity; imaging; layers; maps; resolution; scale

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