The cortical modulation of stimulus-specific adaptation in the auditory midbrain and thalamus: a potential neuronal correlate for predictive coding

Front Syst Neurosci. 2015 Mar 9;9:19. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00019. eCollection 2015.


To follow an ever-changing auditory scene, the auditory brain is continuously creating a representation of the past to form expectations about the future. Unexpected events will produce an error in the predictions that should "trigger" the network's response. Indeed, neurons in the auditory midbrain, thalamus and cortex, respond to rarely occurring sounds while adapting to frequently repeated ones, i.e., they exhibit stimulus specific adaptation (SSA). SSA cannot be explained solely by intrinsic membrane properties, but likely involves the participation of the network. Thus, SSA is envisaged as a high order form of adaptation that requires the influence of cortical areas. However, present research supports the hypothesis that SSA, at least in its simplest form (i.e., to frequency deviants), can be transmitted in a bottom-up manner through the auditory pathway. Here, we briefly review the underlying neuroanatomy of the corticofugal projections before discussing state of the art studies which demonstrate that SSA present in the medial geniculate body (MGB) and inferior colliculus (IC) is not inherited from the cortex but can be modulated by the cortex via the corticofugal pathways. By modulating the gain of neurons in the thalamus and midbrain, the auditory cortex (AC) would refine SSA subcortically, preventing irrelevant information from reaching the cortex.

Keywords: IC; MGB; MMN; SSA; auditory; cooling technique; corticofugal projections; predictive coding.

Publication types

  • Review