Effects of acetylcholine and atropine on plasticity of central auditory neurons caused by conditioning in bats

J Neurophysiol. 2001 Jul;86(1):211-25. doi: 10.1152/jn.2001.86.1.211.


In the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), conditioning with acoustic stimuli followed by electric leg-stimulation causes shifts in frequency-tuning curves and best frequencies (hereafter BF shifts) of collicular and cortical neurons, i.e., reorganization of the cochleotopic (frequency) maps in the inferior colliculus (IC) and auditory cortex (AC). The collicular BF shift recovers 180 min after the conditioning, but the cortical BF shift lasts longer than 26 h. The collicular BF shift is not caused by conditioning, as the AC is inactivated during conditioning. Therefore it has been concluded that the collicular BF shift is caused by the corticofugal auditory system. The collicular and cortical BF shifts both are not caused by conditioning as the somatosensory cortex is inactivated during conditioning. Therefore it has been hypothesized that the cortical BF shift is mostly caused by both the subcortical (e.g., collicular) BF shift and the activity of nonauditory systems such as the somatosensory cortex excited by an unconditioned leg-stimulation and the cholinergic basal forebrain. The main aims of our present studies are to examine whether acetylcholine (ACh) applied to the AC augments the collicular and cortical BF shifts caused by the conditioning and whether atropine applied to the AC abolishes the cortical BF shift but not the collicular BF shift, as expected from the preceding hypothesis. In the awake bat, we made the following findings. ACh applied to the AC augments not only the cortical BF shift but also the collicular BF shift through the corticofugal system. Atropine applied to the AC reduces the collicular BF shift and abolishes the cortical BF shift which otherwise would be caused. ACh applied to the IC significantly augments the collicular BF shift but affects the cortical BF shift only slightly. ACh makes the cortical BF shift long-lasting beyond 4 h, but it cannot make the collicular BF shift long-lasting beyond 3 h. Atropine applied to the IC abolishes the collicular BF shift. It reduces the cortical BF shift but does not abolish it. Our findings favor the hypothesis that the BF shifts evoked by the corticofugal system, and an increased ACh level in the AC evoked by the basal forebrain are both necessary to evoke a long-lasting cortical BF shift.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Atropine / pharmacology*
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Auditory Pathways / cytology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Inferior Colliculi / cytology
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Parasympatholytics / pharmacology*
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology


  • Parasympatholytics
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Atropine
  • Acetylcholine