Single units in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) of unanesthetized decerebrate cats can be grouped into three distinct types (V, I, and O) according to the patterns of excitation and inhibition revealed in contralateral frequency response maps. This study extends the description of these response types by assessing their ipsilateral and binaural response map properties. Here the nature of ipsilateral inputs in evaluated directly using frequency response maps and compared with results obtained from methods that rely on sensitivity to interaural level differences (ILDs). In general, there is a one-to-one correspondence between observed ipsilateral input characteristics and those inferred from ILD manipulations. Type V units receive ipsilateral excitation and show binaural facilitation (EE properties); type I and type O units receive ipsilateral inhibition and show binaural excitatory/inhibitory (EI) interactions. Analyses of binaural frequency response maps show that these ILD effects extend over the entire receptive field of ICC units. Thus the range of frequencies that elicits excitation from type V units is expanded with increasing levels of ipsilateral stimulation, whereas the excitatory bandwidth of type I and O units decreases under the same binaural conditions. For the majority of ICC units, application of bicuculline, and antagonist for GABA(A)-mediated inhibition, does not alter the basic effects of binaural stimulation; rather, it primarily increases spontaneous and maximum discharge rates. These results support our previous interpretations of the putative dominant inputs to ICC response types and have important implications for midbrain processing of competing free-field sounds that reach the listener with different directional signatures.
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