Tone frequency maps and receptive fields in the developing chinchilla auditory cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jan;93(1):454-66. doi: 10.1152/jn.00569.2004. Epub 2004 Sep 1.


Single-unit responses to tone pip stimuli were isolated from numerous microelectrode penetrations of auditory cortex (under ketamine anesthesia) in the developing chinchilla (laniger), a precocious mammal. Results are reported at postnatal day 3 (P3), P15, and P30, and from adult animals. Hearing sensitivity and spike firing rates were mature in the youngest group. The topographic representation of sound frequency (tonotopic map) in primary and secondary auditory cortex was also well ordered and sharply tuned by P3. The spectral-temporal complexity of cortical receptive fields, on the other hand, increased progressively (past P30) to adulthood. The (purported) refinement of initially diffuse tonotopic projections to cortex thus seems to occur in utero in the chinchilla, where external (and maternal) sounds are considerably attenuated and might not contribute to the mechanism(s) involved. This compares well with recent studies of vision, suggesting that the refinement of the retinotopic map does not require external light, but rather waves of (correlated) spontaneous activity on the retina. In contrast, it is most probable that selectivity for more complex sound features, such as frequency stacks and glides, develops under the influence of the postnatal acoustic environment and that inadequate sound stimulation in early development (e.g., due to chronic middle ear disease) impairs the formation of the requisite intracortical (and/or subcortical) circuitry.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Chinchilla / growth & development*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Sound*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Time Factors