1. We have recorded the responses of neurons in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) of barbiturate-anesthetized cats to pure tones [either at the unit's best frequency (BF) or at another frequency (OFF-BF)] and to two-tone combination stimuli. 2. The effects of OFF-BF input (either alone or presented simultaneously with a BF tone in a two-tone stimulus) on the response patterns of choppers may include not only rate inhibition but changes in the discharge regularity and the temporal adaptation properties of the spike trains. 3. In the majority of cases we studied (119 of 146 frequencies examined in 45 units), the discharge regularity of a response to an OFF-BF or two-tone stimulus is comparable with that of a 'rate-matched' BF tone response. In a minority of cases (27 of 146 frequencies examined), however, OFF-BF input (either alone or in a two-tone stimulus format) changed the regularity compared with that of a rate-matched BF tone response. 4. In the majority of cases studied (139 of 171 frequencies examined in 53 units), the initial pattern of rate adaptation ['temporal adaptation pattern' (TAP)] was the same in response to a short tone burst at BF, to an OFF-BF tone burst, or to a pair of tones. The TAP can, however, be significantly altered by OFF-BF input, although this is a comparatively infrequent occurrence in our data sample (32 of 171 frequencies examined), from the response to BF tone to the response to the two-tone or OFF-BF stimulus, are as follows: sustained to slowly adapting; slowly adapting to transiently adapting, and transiently adapting to slowly adapting. Changes in the TAPs of chopper unit responses have been recorded from both regular and irregular choppers and cannot be accounted for on the basis of changes in sustained firing rate. These changes in the discharge regularity and TAP in the small minority of cases suggest that (at least in these cases) the inhibitory effect of OFF-BF input is not simply the result of two-tone suppression at the level of the auditory nerve fiber input. 5. We have observed that regular choppers may be transformed into irregular choppers by OFF-BF (rate inhibitory) input. We suggest that, analogously, the characteristic TAPs of irregular choppers in response to BF tones (i.e., slowly adapting and transiently adapting) may result from the effects of BF or near-BF inhibitory input, causing a decrease in the firing rate and corrupting the intrinsic firing regularity. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that regular and irregular choppers are distinguished by the magnitude and/or types of inhibitory input that they receive.
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