853 research outputs found

    How evolution has opened our ears

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    Interaction of excitation and inhibition in processing of pure tone and amplitude-modulated stimuli in the medial superior olive of the mustached bat

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    1. In mammals with good low-frequency hearing, the medial superior olive (MSO) processes interaural time or phase differences that are important cues for sound localization. Its cells receive excitatory projections from both cochlear nuclei and are thought to function as coincidence detectors. The response patterns of MSO neurons in most mammals are predominantly sustained. In contrast, the MSO in the mustached bat is a monaural nucleus containing neurons with phasic discharge patterns. These neurons receive projections from the contralateral anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) and the ipsilateral medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB). 2. To further investigate the role of the MSO in the bat, the responses of 252 single units in the MSO to pure tones and sinusoidal amplitude-modulated (SAM) stimuli were recorded. The results confirmed that the MSO in the mustached bat is tonotopically organized, with low frequencies in the dorsal part and high frequencies in the ventral part. The 61-kHz region is overrepresented. Most neurons tested (88%) were monaural and discharged only in response to contralateral stimuli. Their response could not be influenced by stimulation of the ipsilateral ear. 3. Only 11% of all MSO neurons were spontaneously active. In these neurons the spontaneous discharge rate was suppressed during the stimulus presentation. 4. The majority of cells (85%) responded with a phasic discharge pattern. About one-half (51%) responded with a level-independent phasic ON response. Other phasic response patterns included phasic OFF or phasic ON-OFF, depending on the stimulus frequency. Neurons with ON-OFF discharge patterns were most common in the 61-kHz region and absent in the high-frequency region. 5. Double tone experiments showed that at short intertone intervals the ON response to the second stimulus or the OFF response to the first stimulus was inhibited. 6. In neuropharmacological experiments, glycine applied to MSO neurons (n = 71) inhibited any tone-evoked response. In the presence of the glycine antagonist strychnine the response patterns changed from phasic to sustained (n = 35) and the neurons responded to both tones presented in double tone experiments independent of the intertone interval (n = 5). The effects of strychnine were reversible. 7. Twenty of 21 neurons tested with sinusoidally amplitude-modulated (SAM) signals exhibited low-pass or band-pass filter characteristics. Tests with SAM signals also revealed a weak temporal summation of inhibition in 13 of the 21 cells tested.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS) </jats:p

    Synaptic Inhibition Influences the Temporal Coding Properties of Medial Superior Olivary Neurons. An in vitro Study

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    The medial superior olive (MSO) functions as a coincidence detector for interaural time and phase differences by integrating excitatory synaptic inputs. Recent studies demonstrating glycinergic projections to MSO neurons suggest that coincidence detection results from the temporal integration of both EPSPs and IPSPs. We examined the impact of synaptic inhibition on the temporal coding properties of gerbil MSO neurons in vitro with intracellular recordings and electrical stimulation. For low-level bilateral electric stimulation, the EPSPs summated to produce an action potential in 73% of MSO neurons if they occurred within 50–500 microseconds of one another. Synaptic inhibition became more prominent at higher stimulus amplitudes in 73% of MSO neurons, and could block an evoked action potential if the stimuli to each pathway were delivered within 250 microseconds of one another. The glycine receptor antagonist strychnine influenced the response to simulated interaural time differences. In the presence of strychnine, interstimulus delays that originally resulted in full action potential suppression were sufficient to evoke an action potential. For trains of stimuli, as stimulus intensity increased (spatial summation), or as stimulus repetition rate increased to 100–500 Hz (temporal summation), there was a decrease in the number of stimulus pulses that evoked an action potential. In the presence of strychnine, MSO neurons generated a greater percentage of action potentials to the stimulus trains. When stimulus trains were delivered bilaterally, MSO neurons fired a greater number of action potentials at specific interstimulus time differences, and were selectively inhibited at other time differences.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)</jats:p

    Sensitivity to interaural time differences in the medial superior olive of a small mammal, the Mexican free-tailed bat

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    Neurons in the medial superior olive (MSO) are thought to encode interaural time differences (ITDs), the main binaural cues used for localizing low-frequency sounds in the horizontal plane. The underlying mechanism is supposed to rely on a coincidence of excitatory inputs from the two ears that are phase-locked to either the stimulus frequency or the stimulus envelope. Extracellular recordings from MSO neurons in several mammals conform with this theory. However, there are two aspects that remain puzzling. The first concerns the role of the MSO in small mammals that have relatively poor low-frequency hearing and whose heads generate only very small ITDs. The second puzzling aspect of the scenario concerns the role of the prominent binaural inhibitory inputs to MSO neurons. We examined these two unresolved issues by recording from MSO cells in the Mexican free-tailed bat. Using sinusoidally amplitude-modulated tones, we found that the ITD sensitivities of many MSO cells in the bat were remarkably similar to those reported for larger mammals. Our data also indicate an important role for inhibition in sharpening ITD sensitivity and increasing the dynamic range of ITD functions. A simple model of ITD coding based on the timing of multiple inputs is proposed. Additionally, our data suggest that ITD coding is a by-product of a neuronal circuit that processes the temporal structure of sounds. Because of the free-tailed bat's small head size, ITD coding is most likely not the major function of the MSO in this small mammal and probably other small mammals

    "Neuro“ als Erfolgsschlager

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    Medial Superior Olivary Neurons Receive Surprisingly Few Excitatory and Inhibitory Inputs with Balanced Strength and Short-Term Dynamics

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    Neurons in the medial superior olive (MSO) process microsecond interaural time differences, the major cue for localizing low-frequency sounds, by comparing the relative arrival time of binaural, glutamatergic excitatory inputs. This coincidence detection mechanism is additionally shaped by highly specialized glycinergic inhibition. Traditionally, it is assumed that the binaural inputs are conveyed by many independent fibers, but such an anatomical arrangement may decrease temporal precision. Short-term depression on the other hand might enhance temporal fidelity during ongoing activity. For the first time we show that binaural coincidence detection in MSO neurons may require surprisingly few but strong inputs, challenging long-held assumptions about mammalian coincidence detection. This study exclusively uses adult gerbils for in vitro electrophysiology, single-cell electroporation and immunohistochemistry to characterize the size and short-term plasticity of inputs to the MSO. We find that the excitatory and inhibitory inputs to the MSO are well balanced both in strength and short-term dynamics, redefining this fastest of all mammalian coincidence detector circuits

    The Mammalian Interaural Time Difference Detection Circuit Is Differentially Controlled by GABAB Receptors during Development

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    Throughout development GABAB receptors (GABABRs) are widely expressed in the mammalian brain. In mature auditory brainstem neurons, GABABRs are involved in the short-term regulation of the strength and dynamics of excitatory and inhibitory inputs, thus modulating sound analysis. During development, GABABRs also contribute to long-term changes in input strength. Using a combination of whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in acute brain slices and immunostainings in gerbils, we characterized developmental changes in GABABR-mediated regulation of synaptic inputs to neurons in the medial superior olive (MSO), an auditory brainstem nucleus that analyzes interaural time differences (ITDs). Here, we show that, before hearing onset, GABABR-mediated depression of transmitter release is much stronger for excitation than inhibition, whereas in mature animals GABABRs mainly control the inhibition. During the same developmental period, GABABR immunoreactivity shifts from the dendritic to the somatic region of the MSO. Furthermore, only before hearing onset (postnatal day 12), stimulation of the fibers originating in the medial and the lateral nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB and LNTB) activates GABABRs on both the inhibitory and the excitatory inputs. After hearing onset, GAD65-positive endings devoid of glycine transporter reactivity suggest GABA release from sources other than the MNTB and LNTB. At this age, pharmacological increase of spontaneous synaptic release activates GABABRs only on the inhibitory inputs. This indicates not only a profound inhibitory effect of GABABRs on the major inputs to MSO neurons in neonatal animals but also a direct modulatory role of GABABRs for ITD analysis in the MSO of adult animals

    Impaired Auditory Temporal Selectivity in the Inferior Colliculus of Aged Mongolian Gerbils

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    Aged humans show severe difficulties in temporal auditory processing tasks (e.g., speech recognition in noise, low-frequency sound localization, gap detection). A degradation of auditory function with age is also evident in experimental animals. To investigate age-related changes in temporal processing, we compared extracellular responses to temporally variable pulse trains and human speech in the inferior colliculus of young adult (3 month) and aged (3 years) Mongolian gerbils. We observed a significant decrease of selectivity to the pulse trains in neuronal responses from aged animals. This decrease in selectivity led, on the population level, to an increase in signal correlations and therefore a decrease in heterogeneity of temporal receptive fields and a decreased efficiency in encoding of speech signals. A decrease in selectivity to temporal modulations is consistent with a downregulation of the inhibitory transmitter system in aged animals. These alterations in temporal processing could underlie declines in the aging auditory system, which are unrelated to peripheral hearing loss. These declines cannot be compensated by traditional hearing aids (that rely on amplification of sound) but may rather require pharmacological treatment

    Population Coding of Interaural Time Differences in Gerbils and Barn Owls

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    Interaural time differences (ITDs) are the primary cue for the localization of low-frequency sound sources in the azimuthal plane. For decades, it was assumed that the coding of ITDs in the mammalian brain was similar to that in the avian brain, where information is sparsely distributed across individual neurons, but recent studies have suggested otherwise. In this study, we characterized the representation of ITDs in adult male and female gerbils. First, we performed behavioral experiments to determine the acuity with which gerbils can use ITDs to localize sounds. Next, we used different decoders to infer ITDs from the activity of a population of neurons in central nucleus of the inferior colliculus. These results show that ITDs are not represented in a distributed manner, but rather in the summed activity of the entire population. To contrast these results with those from a population where the representation of ITDs is known to be sparsely distributed, we performed the same analysis on activity from the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus of adult male and female barn owls. Together, our results support the idea that, unlike the avian brain, the mammalian brain represents ITDs in the overall activity of a homogenous population of neurons within each hemisphere
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