Dichotomy of functional organization in the mouse auditory cortex

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The sensory areas of the cerebral cortex possess multiple topographic representations of sensory dimensions. The gradient of frequency selectivity (tonotopy) is the dominant organizational feature in the primary auditory cortex, whereas other feature-based organizations are less well established. We probed the topographic organization of the mouse auditory cortex at the single-cell level using in vivo two-photon Ca2+ imaging. Tonotopy was present on a large scale but was fractured on a fine scale. Intensity tuning, which is important in level-invariant representation, was observed in individual cells, but was not topographically organized. The presence or near absence of putative subthreshold responses revealed a dichotomy in topographic organization. Inclusion of subthreshold responses revealed a topographic clustering of neurons with similar response properties, whereas such clustering was absent in supra-threshold responses. This dichotomy indicates that groups of nearby neurons with locally shared inputs can perform independent parallel computations in the auditory cortex.

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Figure 1: Functional two-photon Ca2+ imaging in mouse ACX.
Figure 2: ACX Ca2+ responses are unreliable.
Figure 3: Large-scale organization of ACX probed with single-cell resolution.
Figure 4: Tonotopy exists in A1 and AAF on a large scale, but not on small spatial scales.
Figure 5: High local variability in bandwidth.
Figure 6: Intensity tuning and local heterogeneity in noise responses.
Figure 7: Lack of organized intensity maps.
Figure 8: ACX cells receive shared inputs, but respond differentially.


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The authors thank D. Winkowski for many helpful comments and help with imaging and J. Zemskova and A. Sheikh for histological help. This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (R21DC009454 and R01DC009607 to P.O.K., and RO1DC005779 to S.A.S.), Air Force Office of Scientific Research Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (S.A.S. and P.O.K.) and an ISR Seed Grant (S.A.S. and P.O.K.).

Author information

S.B. performed the in vivo studies. S.B. and P.O.K. carried out the in vitro studies. P.O.K. planned and supervised the project. S.B., S.A.S. and P.O.K. contributed to the experimental design, discussed the results and wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Patrick O Kanold.

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Bandyopadhyay, S., Shamma, S. & Kanold, P. Dichotomy of functional organization in the mouse auditory cortex. Nat Neurosci 13, 361–368 (2010) doi:10.1038/nn.2490

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