Single-unit selectivity to azimuthal direction and sound pressure level of noise bursts in cat high-frequency primary auditory cortex

J Neurophysiol. 1990 Jun;63(6):1448-66. doi: 10.1152/jn.1990.63.6.1448.


1. The azimuth and sound pressure level (SPL) selectivities of single-unit responses recorded in primary auditory cortex of barbiturate-anesthetized cats were studied by the use of broadband noise bursts delivered in the free field from a moveable loud-speaker. The experiments were carried out with cats located inside a quasianechoic sound-isolation chamber. We studied 71 units with relatively stable response properties. All units were located in the frequency representation between 5.8 and 31 kHz. The data obtained for each unit were displayed as an azimuth-level response area, a contour plot that displays the distribution of response magnitude as a joint function of SPL and azimuth at 0 degrees elevation. From these, azimuth and level functions were obtained to derive descriptors of azimuth and level selectivity. 2. Sensitivity to sound-source azimuth was assessed from the modulation of the average azimuth function (average of azimuth functions obtained to each SPL of noise that was presented) for each unit. The sample was arbitrarily divided into a high-directionality (HD) group (66%) whose average azimuth functions had modulation values of greater than or equal to 75% and a low-directionality (LD) group (34%). The distinction between HD and LD groups was made so that we could analyze the characteristics of units likely to be involved in the representation of sound-source azimuth. 3. There is an overrepresentation of the contralateral sound field and the midline in the sample of HD units. The preferred sector for each unit was defined as the range of azimuths within the frontal sound field throughout which unit response was greater than or equal to 75% of maximum. Each unit was classified as either midline preferring (17%, the midpoint of the preferred sector, i.e., best azimuth, was located within 5 degrees of the midline), contralateral preferring (60%), or ipsilateral preferring (23%). The ratio of contralateral- to ipsilateral-preferring units was 2.5:1. A higher proportion of units had best azimuths located in the 10 degrees sector centered on the midline than in any other 10 degrees sector of the frontal sound field. 4. In one animal, recordings were obtained at seven closely spaced sites in layer IV from single- and multiunit responses, which were narrowly tuned to both azimuth and SPL. The units located along a 1-mm length of an isofrequency strip were tuned to similar frequencies and SPLs but had five distinctly different directional preferences distributed throughout the entire frontal sound field.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Noise*
  • Sound Localization / physiology*