Coding of sound envelopes by inhibitory rebound in neurons of the superior olivary complex in the unanesthetized rabbit.
Most natural sounds (e.g., speech) are complex and have amplitude envelopes that fluctuate rapidly. A number of studies have examined the neural coding of envelopes, but little attention has been paid to the superior olivary complex (SOC), a constellation of nuclei that receive information from the cochlear nucleus. We studied two classes of predominantly monaural neurons: those that displayed a sustained response to tone bursts and those that gave only a response to the tone offset. Our results demonstrate that the off neurons in the SOC can encode the pattern of amplitude-modulated sounds with high synchrony that is superior to sustained neurons. The upper cutoff frequency and highest modulation frequency at which significant synchrony was present were, on average, slightly higher for off neurons compared with sustained neurons. Finally, most sustained and off neurons encoded the level of pure tones over a wider range of intensities than those reported for auditory nerve fibers and cochlear nucleus neurons. A traditional view of inhibition is that it attenuates or terminates neural activity. Although this holds true for off neurons, the robust discharge when inhibition is released adds a new dimension. For simple sounds (i.e., pure tones), the off response can code a wide range of sound levels. For complex sounds, the off response becomes entrained to each modulation, resulting in a precise temporal coding of the envelope. (+info)
Communication signals and sound production mechanisms of mormyrid electric fish.
The African weakly electric fishes Pollimyrus isidori and Pollimyrus adspersus (Mormyridae) produce elaborate acoustic displays during social communication in addition to their electric organ discharges (EODs). In this paper, we provide new data on the EODs of these sound-producing mormyrids and on the mechanisms they use to generate species-typical sounds. Although it is known that the EODs are usually species-specific and sexually dimorphic, the EODs of closely related sound-producing mormyrids have not previously been compared. The data presented demonstrate that there is a clear sexual dimorphism in the EOD waveform of P. isidori. Females have a multi-phasic EOD that is more complex than the male's biphasic EOD. In this respect, P. isidori is similar to its more thoroughly studied congener P. adspersus, which has a sexually dimorphic EOD. The new data also reveal that the EODs of these two species are distinct, thus showing for the first time that species-specificity in EODs is characteristic of these fishes, which also generate species-specific courtship sounds. The sound-generating mechanism is based on a drumming muscle coupled to the swimbladder. Transverse sections through decalcified male and female P. adspersus revealed a muscle that envelops the caudal pole of the swimbladder and that is composed of dorso-ventrally oriented fibers. The muscle is five times larger in males (14.5+/-4.4 microl, mean +/- s.d.) than in females (3.2+/-1.8 microl). The fibers are also of significantly larger diameter in males than in females. Males generate courtship sounds and females do not. The function of the swimbladder muscle was tested using behavioral experiments. Male P. adspersus normally produce acoustic courtship displays when presented with female-like electrical stimuli. However, local anesthesia of the swimbladder muscle muted males. In control trials, males continued to produce sounds after injection of either lidocaine in the trunk muscles or saline in the swimbladder muscles. (+info)
Sensitivity to simulated directional sound motion in the rat primary auditory cortex.
Sensitivity to simulated directional sound motion in the rat primary auditory cortex. This paper examines neuron responses in rat primary auditory cortex (AI) during sound stimulation of the two ears designed to simulate sound motion in the horizontal plane. The simulated sound motion was synthesized from mathematical equations that generated dynamic changes in interaural phase, intensity, and Doppler shifts at the two ears. The simulated sounds were based on moving sources in the right frontal horizontal quadrant. Stimuli consisted of three circumferential segments between 0 and 30 degrees, 30 and 60 degrees, and 60 and 90 degrees and four radial segments at 0, 30, 60, and 90 degrees. The constant velocity portion of each segment was 0.84 m long. The circumferential segments and center of the radial segments were calculated to simulate a distance of 2 m from the head. Each segment had two trajectories that simulated motion in both directions, and each trajectory was presented at two velocities. Young adult rats were anesthetized, the left primary auditory cortex was exposed, and microelectrode recordings were obtained from sound responsive cells in AI. All testing took place at a tonal frequency that most closely approximated the best frequency of the unit at a level 20 dB above the tuning curve threshold. The results were presented on polar plots that emphasized the two directions of simulated motion for each segment rather than the location of sound in space. The trajectory exhibiting a "maximum motion response" could be identified from these plots. "Neuron discharge profiles" within these trajectories were used to demonstrate neuron activity for the two motion directions. Cells were identified that clearly responded to simulated uni- or multidirectional sound motion (39%), that were sensitive to sound location only (19%), or that were sound driven but insensitive to our location or sound motion stimuli (42%). The results demonstrated the capacity of neurons in rat auditory cortex to selectively process dynamic stimulus conditions representing simulated motion on the horizontal plane. Our data further show that some cells were responsive to location along the horizontal plane but not sensitive to motion. Cells sensitive to motion, however, also responded best to the moving sound at a particular location within the trajectory. It would seem that the mechanisms underlying sensitivity to sound location as well as direction of motion converge on the same cell. (+info)
Single-unit responses in the inferior colliculus of decerebrate cats. I. Classification based on frequency response maps.
This study proposes a classification system for neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) that is based on excitation and inhibition patterns of single-unit responses in decerebrate cats. The decerebrate preparation allowed extensive characterization of physiological response types without the confounding effects of anesthesia. The tone-driven discharge rates of individual units were measured across a range of frequencies and levels to map excitatory and inhibitory response areas for contralateral monaural stimulation. The resulting frequency response maps can be grouped into the following three populations: type V maps exhibit a wide V-shaped excitatory area and no inhibition; type I maps show a more restricted I-shaped region of excitation that is flanked by inhibition at lower and higher frequencies; and type O maps display an O-shaped island of excitation at low stimulus levels that is bounded by inhibition at higher levels. Units that produce a type V map typically have a low best frequency (BF: the most sensitive frequency), a low rate of spontaneous activity, and monotonic rate-level functions for both BF tones and broadband noise. Type I and type O units have BFs that span the cat's range of audible frequencies and high rates of spontaneous activity. Like type V units, type I units are excited by BF tones and noise at all levels, but their rate-level functions may become nonmonotonic at high levels. Type O units are inhibited by BF tones and noise at high levels. The existence of distinct response types is consistent with a conceptual model in which the unit types receive dominant inputs from different sources and shows that these functionally segregated pathways are specialized to play complementary roles in the processing of auditory information. (+info)
Conductive hearing loss produces a reversible binaural hearing impairment.
Conductive hearing loss, produced by otitis media with effusion, is widespread in young children. However, little is known about its short- or long-term effects on hearing or the brain. To study the consequences of a conductive loss for the perception and processing of sounds, we plugged the left ear canal of ferrets for 7-15 months during either infancy or adulthood. Before or during plugging, the ferrets were trained to perform a binaural task requiring the detection of a 500 Hz tone, positioned 90 degrees to the right, that was masked by two sources of broad-band noise. In one condition ("control"), both noise sources were 90 degrees right and, in the second condition ("bilateral"), one noise source was moved to 90 degrees left. Normal ferrets showed binaural unmasking: tone detection thresholds were lower (mean 10.1 dB) for the bilateral condition than for the control condition. Both groups of ear-plugged ferrets had reduced unmasking; the mean residual unmasking was 2.3 dB for the infant and 0.7 dB for the adult ear-plugged animals. After unplugging, unmasking increased in both groups (infant, 7.1 dB; adult, 6.9 dB) but not to normal levels. Repeated testing during the 22 months after unplugging revealed a gradual return to normal levels of unmasking. These results show that a unilateral conductive hearing loss, in either infancy or adulthood, impairs binaural hearing both during and after the hearing loss. They show scant evidence for adaptation to the plug and demonstrate a recovery from the impairment that occurs over a period of several months after restoration of normal peripheral function. (+info)
Mosquito hearing: sound-induced antennal vibrations in male and female Aedes aegypti.
Male mosquitoes are attracted by the flight sounds of conspecific females. In males only, the antennal flagellum bears a large number of long hairs and is therefore said to be plumose. As early as 1855, it was proposed that this remarkable antennal anatomy served as a sound-receiving structure. In the present study, the sound-induced vibrations of the antennal flagellum in male and female Aedes aegypti were compared, and the functional significance of the flagellar hairs for audition was examined. In both males and females, the antennae are resonantly tuned mechanical systems that move as simple forced damped harmonic oscillators when acoustically stimulated. The best frequency of the female antenna is around 230 Hz; that of the male is around 380 Hz, which corresponds approximately to the fundamental frequency of female flight sounds. The antennal hairs of males are resonantly tuned to frequencies between approximately 2600 and 3100 Hz and are therefore stiffly coupled to, and move together with, the flagellar shaft when stimulated at biologically relevant frequencies around 380 Hz. Because of this stiff coupling, forces acting on the hairs can be transmitted to the shaft and thus to the auditory sensory organ at the base of the flagellum, a process that is proposed to improve acoustic sensitivity. Indeed, the mechanical sensitivity of the male antenna not only exceeds the sensitivity of the female antenna but also those of all other arthropod movement receivers studied so far. (+info)
Bilateral ablation of auditory cortex in Mongolian gerbil affects discrimination of frequency modulated tones but not of pure tones.
This study examines the role of auditory cortex in the Mongolian gerbil in differential conditioning to pure tones and to linearly frequency-modulated (FM) tones by analyzing the effects of bilateral auditory cortex ablation. Learning behavior and performance were studied in a GO/NO-GO task aiming at avoidance of a mild foot shock by crossing a hurdle in a two-way shuttle box. Hurdle crossing as the conditioned response to the reinforced stimulus (CR+), as false alarm in response to the unreinforced stimulus (CR-), intertrial activity, and reaction times were monitored. The analysis revealed no effects of lesion on pure tone discrimination but impairment of FM tone discrimination. In the latter case lesion effects were dependent on timing of lesion relative to FM tone discrimination training. Lesions before training in naive animals led to a reduced CR+ rate and had no effect on CR- rate. Lesions in pretrained animals led to an increased CR- rate without effects on the CR+ rate. The results suggest that auditory cortex plays a more critical role in discrimination of FM tones than in discrimination of pure tones. The different lesion effects on FM tone discrimination before and after training are compatible with both the hypothesis of a purely sensory deficit in FM tone processing and the hypothesis of a differential involvement of auditory cortex in acquisition and retention, respectively. (+info)
Contractile properties of muscles used in sound production and locomotion in two species of gray tree frog.
The sound-producing muscles of frogs and toads are interesting because they have been selected to produce high-power outputs at high frequencies. The two North American species of gray tree frog, Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor, are a diploid-tetraploid species pair. They are morphologically identical, but differ in the structure of their advertisement calls. H. chrysoscelis produces very loud pulsed calls by contracting its calling muscles at approximately 40 Hz at 20 degrees C, whereas, H. versicolor operates the homologous muscles at approximately 20 Hz at this temperature. This study examined the matching of the intrinsic contractile properties of the calling muscles to their frequency of use. I measured the isotonic and isometric contractile properties of two calling muscles, the laryngeal dilator, which presumably has a role in modulating call structure, and the external oblique, which is one of the muscles that provides the mechanical power for calling. I also examined the properties of the sartorius as a representative locomotor muscle. The calling muscles differ greatly in twitch kinetics between the two species. The calling muscles of H. chrysoscelis reach peak tension in a twitch after approximately 15 ms, compared with 25 ms for the same muscles in H. versicolor. The muscles also differ significantly in isotonic properties in the direction predicted from their calling frequencies. However, the maximum shortening velocities of the calling muscles of H. versicolor are only slightly lower than those of the comparable muscles of H. chrysoscelis. The calling muscles have similar maximum shortening velocities to the sartorius, but have much flatter force-velocity curves, which may be an adaptation to their role in cyclical power output. I conclude that twitch properties have been modified more by selection than have intrinsic shortening velocities. This difference corresponds to the differing roles of shortening velocity and twitch kinetics in determining power output at differing frequencies. (+info)