Interaural time sensitivity in medial superior olive of cat

J Neurophysiol. 1990 Aug;64(2):465-88. doi: 10.1152/jn.1990.64.2.465.


1. We studied the sensitivity of cells in the medial superior olive (MSO) of the anesthetized cat to variations in interaural phase differences (IPDs) of low-frequency tones and in interaural time differences (ITDs) of tones and broad-band noise signals. Our sample consisted of 39 cells histologically localized to the MSO. 2. All but one of the cells had characteristic frequencies less than 3 kHz, and 79% were sensitive to ITDs and IPDs. More than one-half (56%) of the cells responded to monaural stimulation of either ear, and both the binaural and monaural responses were highly phase locked. All of the cells that were sensitive to IPDs and monaurally driven by either ear responded in accord with that predicted by the coincidence model of Jeffress, as judged by comparisons of the phases at which the monaural and binaural responses occurred. The optimal IPDs were tightly clustered between 0.0 and 0.2 cycles. Most cells exhibited facilitation of the response at favorable ITDs and inhibition at unfavorable ITDs compared with the monaural responses. 3. Cells in the MSO exhibited characteristic delay, as judged by a linear relationship between the mean interaural phase and stimulating frequency. Characteristic phases were clustered near 0 indicating the most cells responded maximally when the two input tones were in phase. With the use of the binaural beat stimulus we found no differential selectivity for either the direction or speed of interaural phase changes. 4. The cells were also sensitive to ITDs of broad-band noise signals. The ITD curve in response to broad-band noise was similar to that predicted by the composite curve, which was calculated by linearly summating the tonal responses over the frequencies in the response area of the cell. Most (93%) of the peaks of the composite curves were between 0 and +400 microseconds, corresponding to locations in the contralateral sound field. Moreover, computer cross correlations of the monaural spike trains were similar to the ITD curve generated binaurally for both correlated and uncorrelated noise signals to the two ears. Thus our data suggest that the cells in the MSO behave much like cross-correlators. 5. By combining data from different animals and lcoating each cell on a standard MSO, we found evidence for a spatial map of ITDs across the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis of the MSO.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Functional Laterality
  • Olivary Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Time Factors