Cortical representation of interaural time difference in congenital deafness

Cereb Cortex. 2010 Feb;20(2):492-506. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhp222. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


Binaural cues are required for localization of sound sources. In the present paper, representation of binaural cues has been investigated in the adult auditory cortex. Hearing and congenitally deaf cats were stimulated through binaural cochlear implants and unit responses were collected in the subregion of field A1 showing the largest amplitudes of evoked local field potentials. Sensitivity to interaural time difference (ITD) in the range from -600 to 600 micros was tested at intensities of 0-10 dB above hearing threshold. Template ITD functions were fitted to the data and parameters of ITD functions were compared between deaf and hearing animals. In deaf animals, fewer units responded to binaural stimulation, and those that responded had smaller maximal evoked firing rate. The fit to the template ITD functions was significantly worse in deaf animals, and the modulation depth in ITD functions was smaller, demonstrating a decrease in ITD sensitivity. With increasing binaural levels, hearing controls demonstrated systematic changes in ITD functions not found in deaf animals. Bimodal responses, likely related to precedence effect, were rare in deaf animals. The data demonstrate that despite some rudimentary sensitivity to interaural timing, cortical representation of ITDs is substantially altered by congenital auditory deprivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Cues
  • Deafness / congenital
  • Deafness / physiopathology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*