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Frequency And Intensity Response Properties Of Single Neurons In The Auditory Cortex Of The Behaving Macaque Monkey

Gregg H. Recanzone, Darren C. Guard, Mimi L. Phan

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Response properties of auditory cortical neurons measured in anesthetized preparations have provided important information on the physiological differences between neurons in different auditory cortical areas. Studies in the awake animal, however, have been much less common, and the physiological differences noted may reflect differences in the influence of anesthetics on neurons in different cortical areas. Because the behaving monkey is gaining popularity as an animal model in studies exploring auditory cortical function, it has become critical to physiologically define the response properties of auditory cortical neurons in this preparation. This study documents the response properties of single cortical neurons in the primary and surrounding auditory cortical fields in monkeys performing an auditory discrimination task. We found that neurons with the shortest latencies were located in the primary auditory cortex (AI). Neurons in the rostral field had the longest latencies and the narrowest intensity and frequency tuning, neurons in the caudomedial field had the broadest frequency tuning, and neurons in the lateral field had the most monotonic rate/level functions of the four cortical areas studied. These trends were revealed by comparing response properties across the population of studied neurons, but there was considerable variability between neurons for each response parameter other than characteristic frequency (CF) in each cortical area. Although the neuronal CFs showed a systematic spatial organization across AI, no such systematic organization was apparent for any other response property in AI or the adjacent cortical areas. The results of this study indicate that there are physiological differences between auditory cortical fields in the behaving monkey consistent with previous studies in the anesthetized animal and provide insights into the functional role of these cortical areas in processing acoustic information.