Neurons in the primary auditory cortex (A1) can show rapid changes in receptive fields when animals are engaged in sound detection and discrimination tasks. The source of a signal to A1 that triggers these changes is suspected to be in frontal cortical areas. How or whether activity in frontal areas can influence activity and sensory processing in A1 and the detailed changes occurring in A1 on the level of single neurons and in neuronal populations remain uncertain. Using electrophysiological techniques in mice, we found that pairing orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) stimulation with sound stimuli caused rapid changes in the sound-driven activity within A1 that are largely mediated by noncholinergic mechanisms. By integrating in vivo two-photon Ca2+ imaging of A1 with OFC stimulation, we found that pairing OFC activity with sounds caused dynamic and selective changes in sensory responses of neural populations in A1. Further, analysis of changes in signal and noise correlation after OFC pairing revealed improvement in neural population-based discrimination performance within A1. This improvement was frequency specific and dependent on correlation changes. These OFC-induced influences on auditory responses resemble behavior-induced influences on auditory responses and demonstrate that OFC activity could underlie the coordination of rapid, dynamic changes in A1 to dynamic sensory environments.
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