Cues for sound localization are encoded in multiple aspects of spike trains in the inferior colliculus

Steven M. Chase, Eric D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To localize sound, information from three cues - interaural timing differences (ITDs), interaural level differences (ILDs), and spectral notch cues (SNs) - must be properly integrated. The inferior colliculus (IC) receives convergent input from neurons encoding all three cues. Using virtual space stimuli and information theoretic techniques, we investigated the coding of the various localization cues in single neurons of the IC under different encoding schemes. Here we focus on the analysis of information encoded by first-spike latency, in comparison to previous results on discharge rate and ongoing spike timing. The results show that the localization cues converge to different degrees in particular neurons. ITD information is conveyed most strongly by spike rate, with small amounts of independent information in latency and ongoing spike timing. ILD information shows a similar pattern, with larger mutual information values for all three cues. For these cues, ongoing spike timing does not typically contribute independent information over that captured by a joint rate/first-spike latency code. SNs are coded by both rate and first-spike latency, but ongoing spike timing significantly enhances their representation in a best frequency - dependent manner, as long as the temporal envelope of the stimulus can be used in the decoder. The differential coding of the localization cues suggests that information about multiple cues could be multiplexed onto the responses of single neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1672-1682
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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