Affordable Access

Cortical representation of auditory space: information-bearing features of spike patterns.

  • Furukawa, Shigeto
  • Middlebrooks, John C
Published Article
Journal of neurophysiology
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2002
PMID: 11929896


Previous studies have demonstrated that the spike patterns of cortical neurons vary systematically as a function of sound-source location such that the response of a single neuron can signal the location of a sound source throughout 360 degrees of azimuth. The present study examined specific features of spike patterns that might transmit information related to sound-source location. Analysis was based on responses of well-isolated single units recorded from cortical area A2 in alpha-chloralose-anesthetized cats. Stimuli were 80-ms noise bursts presented from loudspeakers in the horizontal plane; source azimuths ranged through 360 degrees in 20 degrees steps. Spike patterns were averaged across samples of eight trials. A competitive artificial neural network (ANN) identified sound-source locations by recognizing spike patterns; the ANN was trained using the learning vector quantization learning rule. The information about stimulus location that was transmitted by spike patterns was computed from joint stimulus-response probability matrices. Spike patterns were manipulated in various ways to isolate particular features. Full-spike patterns, which contained all spike-count information and spike timing with 100-micros precision, transmitted the most stimulus-related information. Transmitted information was sensitive to disruption of spike timing on a scale of more than approximately 4 ms and was reduced by an average of approximately 35% when spike-timing information was obliterated entirely. In a condition in which all but the first spike in each pattern were eliminated, transmitted information decreased by an average of only approximately 11%. In many cases, that condition showed essentially no loss of transmitted information. Three unidimensional features were extracted from spike patterns. Of those features, spike latency transmitted approximately 60% more information than that transmitted either by spike count or by a measure of latency dispersion. Information transmission by spike patterns recorded on single trials was substantially reduced compared with the information transmitted by averages of eight trials. In a comparison of averaged and nonaveraged responses, however, the information transmitted by latencies was reduced by only approximately 29%, whereas information transmitted by spike counts was reduced by 79%. Spike counts clearly are sensitive to sound-source location and could transmit information about sound-source locations. Nevertheless, the present results demonstrate that the timing of the first poststimulus spike carries a substantial amount, probably the majority, of the location-related information present in spike patterns. The results indicate that any complete model of the cortical representation of auditory space must incorporate the temporal characteristics of neuronal response patterns.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times