Encoding of amplitude modulation in the gerbil cochlear nucleus: II. Possible neural mechanisms

Hear Res. 1990 Mar;44(2-3):123-41. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(90)90075-z.


Rapid changes in sound amplitude--amplitude modulation (AM)--comprise an important feature of biologically-relevant sounds, including speech. In the companion paper, a hierarchy of enhancement for AM processing was demonstrated for unit types of the gerbil ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) [Frisina, et al., Hear. Res. 44, 1990]. In the present report additional neurophysiological findings are presented as an initial test of alternative hypotheses of how VCN unit types amplify or enhance AM information, and how they accomplish this over a wide intensity range. These hypotheses invoke mechanisms such as off-CF excitatory or inhibitory inputs, input from high-threshold auditory-nerve fibers, amplification of residual AM responses of auditory-nerve fibers at high intensities, or post-synaptic cell feedback. From consideration of VCN unit response properties such as onset and steady-state rate-intensity functions, pure-tone tuning, and non-CF responses to AM, it is concluded that: Off-CF excitatory inputs do not play a significant role in VCN AM encoding; Off-CF inhibitory inputs could work in conjunction with one or more of the other proposed mechanisms to account for differential enhancement of AM by VCN neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology*
  • Gerbillinae
  • Rhombencephalon / physiology
  • Sound*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / physiology*