Because of its great genetic potential, the mouse (Mus musculus) has become a popular model species for studies on hearing and sound processing along the auditory pathways. Here, we present the first comparative study on the representation of neuronal response parameters to tones in primary and higher-order auditory cortical fields of awake mice. We quantified 12 neuronal properties of tone processing in order to estimate similarities and differences of function between the fields, and to discuss how far auditory cortex (AC) function in the mouse is comparable to that in awake monkeys and cats. Extracellular recordings were made from 1400 small clusters of neurons from cortical layers III/IV in the primary fields AI (primary auditory field) and AAF (anterior auditory field), and the higher-order fields AII (second auditory field) and DP (dorsoposterior field). Field specificity was shown with regard to spontaneous activity, correlation between spontaneous and evoked activity, tone response latency, sharpness of frequency tuning, temporal response patterns (occurrence of phasic responses, phasic-tonic responses, tonic responses, and off-responses), and degree of variation between the characteristic frequency (CF) and the best frequency (BF) (CF-BF relationship). Field similarities were noted as significant correlations between CFs and BFs, V-shaped frequency tuning curves, similar minimum response thresholds and non-monotonic rate-level functions in approximately two-thirds of the neurons. Comparative and quantitative analyses showed that the measured response characteristics were, to various degrees, susceptible to influences of anesthetics. Therefore, studies of neuronal responses in the awake AC are important in order to establish adequate relationships between neuronal data and auditory perception and acoustic response behavior.
Keywords: auditory cortex; electrophysiology; functional mapping; mouse.
© 2014 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience published by Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.