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Hear Res. 1995 Oct;90(1-2):185-91.

Combination-sensitive neurons in the inferior colliculus.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown 44272, USA.


We examined whether neurons in the inferior colliculus of the mustached bat (Pteronotus parnellii) are combination sensitive, responding to both low- and high-frequency components of the bat's sonar signal. These neurons, previously reported in the thalamus and cortex, analyze sonar target features including distance. Of 82 single units and 36 multiple units from the 58-112 kHz representations of the inferior colliculus, most (86%) displayed sensitivity to low-frequency sounds that was tuned in the range of the fundamental biosonar component (24-31 kHz). All histologically localized units were in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC). There were two major types of combination-sensitive influences. Many neurons were facilitated by low-frequency sounds and selective for particular delays between the low- and high-frequency components. In other neurons, the low-frequency signal was inhibitory if presented simultaneously or a few milliseconds prior to the high-frequency signal. The results indicate that mechanisms creating specialized frequency comparisons and delay sensitivity in combination-sensitive neurons operate at the ICC or below. Since combination sensitivity or multipeaked tuning curves occur in the auditory systems of many species, ICC neurons in these animals may also respond to species-specific frequency combinations.

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