Distinct Spatiotemporal Response Properties of Excitatory Versus Inhibitory Neurons in the Mouse Auditory Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2016 Oct 17;26(11):4242-4252. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw266.


In the auditory system, early neural stations such as brain stem are characterized by strict tonotopy, which is used to deconstruct sounds to their basic frequencies. But higher along the auditory hierarchy, as early as primary auditory cortex (A1), tonotopy starts breaking down at local circuits. Here, we studied the response properties of both excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the auditory cortex of anesthetized mice. We used in vivo two photon-targeted cell-attached recordings from identified parvalbumin-positive neurons (PVNs) and their excitatory pyramidal neighbors (PyrNs). We show that PyrNs are locally heterogeneous as characterized by diverse best frequencies, pairwise signal correlations, and response timing. In marked contrast, neighboring PVNs exhibited homogenous response properties in pairwise signal correlations and temporal responses. The distinct physiological microarchitecture of different cell types is maintained qualitatively in response to natural sounds. Excitatory heterogeneity and inhibitory homogeneity within the same circuit suggest different roles for each population in coding natural stimuli.

Keywords: brain maps; natural sounds; parvalbumin neurons (PV neurons); two-photon targeted patch (TPTP).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Parvalbumins / genetics
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology


  • Parvalbumins