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J Neurophysiol. 1993 Nov;70(5):1988-2009.

Tonotopic and functional organization in the auditory cortex of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus.

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Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912.


1. In Eptesicus the auditory cortex, as defined by electrical activity recorded from microelectrodes in response to tone bursts, FM sweeps, and combinations of FM sweeps, encompasses an average cortical surface area of 5.7 mm2. This area is large with respect to the total cortical surface area and reflects the importance of auditory processing to this species of bat. 2. The predominant pattern of organization in response to tone bursts observed in each cortex is tonotopic, with three discernible divisions revealed by our data. However, although cortical best-frequency (BF) maps from most of the individual bats are similar, no two maps are identical. The largest division contains an average of 84% of the auditory cortical surface area, with BF tonotopically mapped from high to low along the anteroposterior axis and is part of the primary auditory cortex. The medium division encompasses an average of 13% of the auditory cortical surface area, with highly variable BF organization across bats. The third region is the smallest, with an average of only 3% of auditory cortical surface area and is located at the anterolateral edge of the cortex. This region is marked by a reversal of the tonotopic axis and a restriction in the range of BFs as compared with the larger, tonotopically organized division. 3. A population of cortical neurons was found (n = 39) in which each neuron exhibited two BF threshold minima (BF1 and BF2) in response to tone bursts. These neurons thus have multipeaked frequency threshold tuning curves. In Eptesicus the majority of multipeaked frequency-tuned neurons (n = 27) have threshold minima at frequencies that correspond to a harmonic ratio of three-to-one. In contrast, the majority of multipeaked neurons in cats have threshold minima at frequencies in a ratio of three-to-two. A three-to-one harmonic ratio corresponds to the "spectral notches" produced by interference between overlapping echoes from multiple reflective surfaces in complex sonar targets. Behavioral experiments have demonstrated the ability of Eptesicus to use spectral interference notches for perceiving target shape, and this subpopulation of multipeaked frequency-tuned neurons may be involved in coding of spectral notches. 4. The auditory cortex contains delay-tuned neurons that encode target range (n = 99). Most delay-tuned neurons respond poorly to tones or individual FM sweeps and require combinations of FM sweeps. They are combination sensitive and delay tuned.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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