Cooperative nonlinearities in auditory cortical neurons

Neuron. 2008 Jun 26;58(6):956-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.04.026.


Cortical receptive fields represent the signal preferences of sensory neurons. Receptive fields are thought to provide a representation of sensory experience from which the cerebral cortex may make interpretations. While it is essential to determine a neuron's receptive field, it remains unclear which features of the acoustic environment are specifically represented by neurons in the primary auditory cortex (AI). We characterized cat AI spectrotemporal receptive fields (STRFs) by finding both the spike-triggered average (STA) and stimulus dimensions that maximized the mutual information between response and stimulus. We derived a nonlinearity relating spiking to stimulus projection onto two maximally informative dimensions (MIDs). The STA was highly correlated with the first MID. Generally, the nonlinearity for the first MID was asymmetric and often monotonic in shape, while the second MID nonlinearity was symmetric and nonmonotonic. The joint nonlinearity for both MIDs revealed that most first and second MIDs were synergistic and thus should be considered conjointly. The difference between the nonlinearities suggests different possible roles for the MIDs in auditory processing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Cats
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*