Processing of auditory information requires constant adjustment due to alterations of the environment and changing conditions in the nervous system with age, health, and experience. Consequently, patterns of activity in cortical networks have complex dynamics over a wide range of timescales, from milliseconds to days and longer. In the primary auditory cortex (AI), multiple forms of adaptation and plasticity shape synaptic input and action potential output. However, the variance of neuronal responses has made it difficult to characterize AI receptive fields and to determine the function of AI in processing auditory information such as vocalizations. Here we describe recent studies on the temporal modulation of cortical responses and consider the relation of synaptic plasticity to neural coding.
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