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J Neurophysiol. 1988 Dec;60(6):1799-822.

Periodicity coding in the inferior colliculus of the cat. I. Neuronal mechanisms.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0526.


1. Temporal properties of single- and multiple-unit responses were investigated in the inferior colliculus (IC) of the barbiturate-anesthetized cat. Approximately 95% of recording sites were located in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC). Responses to contralateral stimulation with tone bursts and amplitude-modulated tones (100% sinusoidal modulation) were recorded. Five response parameters were determined for neurons at each location: 1) characteristic frequency (CF); 2) onset latency of responses to CF-tones 60 dB above threshold; 3) Q10 dB (CF divided by bandwidth of tuning curve 10 dB above threshold); 4) best modulation frequency for firing rate (rBMF or BMF; amplitude modulation frequency that elicited the highest firing rate); and 5) best modulation frequency for synchronization (sBMF; amplitude modulation frequency that elicited the highest degree of phase-locking to the modulation frequency). 2. Response characteristics for single units and multiple units corresponded closely. A BMF was obtained at almost all recording sites. For units with a similar CF, a range of BMFs was observed. The upper limit of BMF increased approximately proportional to CF/4 up to BMFs as high as 1 kHz. The lower limit of encountered BMFs for a given CF also increased slightly with CF. BMF ranges for single-unit and multiple-unit responses were similar. Twenty-three percent of the responses revealed rBMFs between 10 and 30 Hz, 51% between 30 and 100 Hz, 18% between 100 and 300 Hz, and 8% between 300 and 1000 Hz. 3. For single units with modulation transfer functions of bandpass characteristics, BMFs determined for firing rate and synchronization were similar (r2 = 0.95). 4. Onset latencies for responses to CF tones 60 dB above threshold varied between 4 and 120 ms. Ninety percent of the onset latencies were between 5 and 18 ms. A range of onset latencies was recorded for different neurons with any given CF. The onset response latency of a given unit or unit cluster was significantly correlated with the period of the BMF and the period of the CF (P less than 0.05). 5."Intrinsic oscillations" of short duration, i.e., regularly timed discharges of units in response to stimuli without a corresponding temporal structure, were frequently observed in the ICC. Oscillation intervals were commonly found to be integer multiples of 0.4 ms. Changes of stimulus frequency or intensity had only minor influences on these intrinsic oscillations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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