At the level of the cochlear nucleus (CN), the auditory pathway divides into several parallel circuits, each of which provides a different representation of the acoustic signal. Here, the representation of the power spectrum of an acoustic signal is analyzed for two CN principal cells - chopper neurons of the ventral CN and type IV neurons of the dorsal CN. The analysis is based on a weighting function model that relates the discharge rate of a neuron to first- and second-order transformations of the power spectrum. In chopper neurons, the transformation of spectral level into rate is a linear (i.e., first-order) or nearly linear function. This transformation is a predominantly excitatory process involving multiple frequency components, centered in a narrow frequency range about best frequency, that usually are processed independently of each other. In contrast, type IV neurons encode spectral information linearly only near threshold. At higher stimulus levels, these neurons are strongly inhibited by spectral notches, a behavior that cannot be explained by level transformations of first- or second-order. Type IV weighting functions reveal complex excitatory and inhibitory interactions that involve frequency components spanning a wider range than that seen in choppers. These findings suggest that chopper and type IV neurons form parallel pathways of spectral information transmission that are governed by two different mechanisms. Although choppers use a predominantly linear mechanism to transmit tonotopic representations of spectra, type IV neurons use highly nonlinear processes to signal the presence of wide-band spectral features.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Oct 24 2000|
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