Auditory cortical areas activated by slow frequency-modulated sounds in mice

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 17;8(7):e68113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068113. Print 2013.


Species-specific vocalizations in mice have frequency-modulated (FM) components slower than the lower limit of FM direction selectivity in the core region of the mouse auditory cortex. To identify cortical areas selective to slow frequency modulation, we investigated tonal responses in the mouse auditory cortex using transcranial flavoprotein fluorescence imaging. For differentiating responses to frequency modulation from those to stimuli at constant frequencies, we focused on transient fluorescence changes after direction reversal of temporally repeated and superimposed FM sweeps. We found that the ultrasonic field (UF) in the belt cortical region selectively responded to the direction reversal. The dorsoposterior field (DP) also responded weakly to the reversal. Regarding the responses in UF, no apparent tonotopic map was found, and the right UF responses were significantly larger in amplitude than the left UF responses. The half-max latency in responses to FM sweeps was shorter in UF compared with that in the primary auditory cortex (A1) or anterior auditory field (AAF). Tracer injection experiments in the functionally identified UF and DP confirmed that these two areas receive afferent inputs from the dorsal part of the medial geniculate nucleus (MG). Calcium imaging of UF neurons stained with fura-2 were performed using a two-photon microscope, and the presence of UF neurons that were selective to both direction and direction reversal of slow frequency modulation was demonstrated. These results strongly suggest a role for UF, and possibly DP, as cortical areas specialized for processing slow frequency modulation in mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Fluorescence
  • Mice
  • Sound*

Grant support

This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Nos. 22115011 and 22240044) and Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology program from the Japanese Government. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.