Auditory midbrain neurons that count

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Oct;5(10):934-6. doi: 10.1038/nn916.


Many acoustic communication signals, including human speech and music, consist of a precise temporal arrangement of discrete elements, but it is unclear whether this precise temporal patterning is required to activate the sensory neurons that mediate signal recognition. In a variety of systems, neurons respond selectively when two or more sound elements are presented in a particular temporal order and the precise relative timing of these elements is particularly important for 'delay-tuned' neurons, including 'tracking' types, in bats. Here we show that one class of auditory neurons in the midbrain of anurans (frogs and toads) responds only to a series of specific interpulse intervals (IPIs); in the most selective cases, a single interval that is slightly longer or shorter than the requisite interval can reset this interval-counting process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Acoustic Stimulation / statistics & numerical data
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anura
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*