Azimuthal sensitivity of neurons in primary auditory cortex of cats. I. Types of sensitivity and the effects of variations in stimulus parameters

J Neurophysiol. 1990 Sep;64(3):872-87. doi: 10.1152/jn.1990.64.3.872.


1. Preliminary to studying the organization of azimuthal sensitivity of neurons along frequency-band strips in the primary auditory cortex (AI) of cat (see companion paper), this study examined the sensitivity of 251 units in cat AI to variations in the azimuthal location of sound sources in the frontal hemifield. Most units (231) were tested with tones at the characteristic frequency (CF; frequency to which the unit had the lowest threshold). Unit CFs ranged from 5 to 36 kHz. A large number of units (91) were tested with broadband noise stimuli, and a few units were also tested at other frequencies within the cell's tuning response area. 2. When tested at stimulus intensities 20-30 dB above CF or noise threshold, the different forms of azimuthal sensitivity exhibited by AI neurons could be divided into (1) contra-field azimuth functions; (2) ipsi-field functions; (3) central-field functions; (4) omnidirectional functions, and (5) multipeaked functions. Contra-field azimuth functions were the most prevalent, with 45.9% of units tested with CF tones and 42.9% of units tested with noise exhibiting this type of azimuthal sensitivity. Ipsi-field azimuthal sensitivity was found in 16.9% of units tested with CF tones and 19.8% of units tested with noise. Central-field azimuthal sensitivity was seen in 10.8% of units tested with CF tones and 17.6% of units tested with noise. Omnidirectional azimuthal sensitivity was seen in 19.9% of units tested with CF tones and 17.6% of units tested with noise, whereas multipeaked azimuthal sensitivity was found in 6.5% of units tested with CF tones and 5.5% of units tested with noise. 3. The effects of increasing stimulus intensity on azimuthal sensitivity were examined in 185 units tested with CF tones and 67 units tested with noise. For four major classes of azimuthal sensitivity (contra-field, ipsi-field, central-field and omnidirectional), the most common effect (approximately 60% of each class) was for the azimuth function to remain constant in form by the defining criteria for these classes. The next most common effect for all classes except omnidirectional azimuth functions was for an expansion of the azimuthal range eliciting responses. (The definition of omnidirectionality precluded any expansion of the response range in this class of azimuth function). A smaller number of units in some classes showed a compression of the azimuth function to a smaller response range, and others showed more complex expansive and compressive effects with increasing stimulus intensity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sound Localization / physiology*