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J Neurophysiol. 2015 Apr 1;113(7):2998-3012. doi: 10.1152/jn.00785.2014. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

Dynamic representation of spectral edges in guinea pig primary auditory cortex.

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Laboratoire de Neurosciences Intégratives et Adaptatives, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS UMR 7260, Marseille, France.
Laboratoire de Neurosciences Intégratives et Adaptatives, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS UMR 7260, Marseille, France


The central representation of a given acoustic motif is thought to be strongly context dependent, i.e., to rely on the spectrotemporal past and present of the acoustic mixture in which it is embedded. The present study investigated the cortical representation of spectral edges (i.e., where stimulus energy changes abruptly over frequency) and its dependence on stimulus duration and depth of the spectral contrast in guinea pig. We devised a stimulus ensemble composed of random tone pips with or without an attenuated frequency band (AFB) of variable depth. Additionally, the multitone ensemble with AFB was interleaved with periods of silence or with multitone ensembles without AFB. We have shown that the representation of the frequencies near but outside the AFB is greatly enhanced, whereas the representation of frequencies near and inside the AFB is strongly suppressed. These cortical changes depend on the depth of the AFB: although they are maximal for the largest depth of the AFB, they are also statistically significant for depths as small as 10 dB. Finally, the cortical changes are quick, occurring within a few seconds of stimulus ensemble presentation with AFB, and are very labile, disappearing within a few seconds after the presentation without AFB. Overall, this study demonstrates that the representation of spectral edges is dynamically enhanced in the auditory centers. These central changes may have important functional implications, particularly in noisy environments where they could contribute to preserving the central representation of spectral edges.


artificial hearing loss; short-term synaptic plasticity; synaptic inhibition; tinnitus

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