Stimulus-specific adaptation in auditory thalamus of young and aged awake rats

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Oct;110(8):1892-902. doi: 10.1152/jn.00403.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 31.


Novel stimulus detection by single neurons in the auditory system, known as stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA), appears to function as a real-time filtering/gating mechanism in processing acoustic information. Particular stimulus paradigms allowing for quantification of a neuron's ability to detect novel or deviant stimuli have been used to examine SSA in the inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body (MGB), and auditory cortex of anesthetized rodents. However, the study of SSA in awake animals is limited to auditory cortex. The present study used individually advanceable tetrodes to record single-unit responses from auditory thalamus (MGB) of awake young adult and aged Fischer Brown Norway (FBN) rats to 1) examine the presence of SSA in the MGB of awake rats and 2) determine whether SSA is altered by aging in MGB. MGB single units in awake FBN rats displayed SSA in response to two stimulus paradigms: the oddball paradigm and a random blocked/interleaved presentation of a set of frequencies. SSA levels were modestly, but nonsignificantly, increased in the nonlemniscal regions of the MGB and at lower stimulus intensities, where 27 of 57 (47%) young adult MGB units displayed SSA. The present findings provide the initial description of SSA in the MGB of awake rats and support SSA as being qualitatively independent of arousal level or anesthetized state. Finally, contrary to previous studies in auditory cortex of anesthetized rats, MGB units in aged rats showed SSA levels indistinguishable from SSA levels in young adult rats, suggesting that SSA in MGB was not impacted by aging in an awake preparation.

Keywords: aging; auditory thalamus; awake animals; medial geniculate body; stimulus-specific adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Age Factors
  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Rats
  • Wakefulness*