Responses of low-frequency cells in the inferior colliculus to interaural time differences of clicks: excitatory and inhibitory components

J Neurophysiol. 1989 Jul;62(1):144-61. doi: 10.1152/jn.1989.62.1.144.


1. We studied extracellular responses of low-frequency cells in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) to interaural time differences (ITDs) of clicks and compared their responses to ITDs of noise and tones. Most cells that displayed sensitivity to ITDs of clicks responded cyclically as a function of ITD with central peaks and troughs at the same ITDs as in response to noise. The positions of these peaks and troughs also matched those predicted from tonal ITD curves. Thus over the range of physiologically relevant ITDs, the binaural cells in the ICC showed similar sensitivity to ITDs of tones, noise, and clicks. 2. The transient nature of the response to a click allowed association of individual discharges with either the ipsilateral or contralateral stimulus when the binaural stimulus included a large ITD. We studied the influence of the click presented to one side on responses to the click presented to the other side. By examining responses to clicks with large ITDs, ranging from 2 to 3 up to 200 ms, we could identify both excitatory and inhibitory components in response to binaural clicks. 3. For many cells, there was evidence for a short-lasting excitation arising from one or both inputs of the binaural stimulus. Inhibitory interactions could also be demonstrated over a large range of ITDs. Long-lasting, late inhibitory components arose from both contralateral and ipsilateral inputs. In 87% of cells that were driven by the contralateral input, a late inhibitory component originating from the ipsilateral side was detected. In all cells that were driven by the ipsilateral side, a late inhibitory contralateral component was detected. This late inhibition of the excitatory response to one side by a leading stimulus to the other side could be evoked even when the leading stimulus was not effective in evoking an excitatory response. 4. Some cells also exhibited an early inhibitory component that preceded the excitation. An early contralateral inhibition was detected in 44% of cells that were driven by the ipsilateral input, whereas an early ipsilateral component was detected in 17% of cells driven by the contralateral input. 5. We confirmed hypotheses about the laterality and time course of the inhibitory and excitatory components by introducing interaural level differences (ILDs) into the binaural clicks and thus varying the strengths of the different components. 6. Inhibitory components may play a role in shaping the sensitivity of individual cells to ITDs of stimuli other than clicks; they were also apparent in responses to noise.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Inferior Colliculi / cytology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Noise
  • Time Factors