The cerebral cortex is a major hub for the convergence and integration of signals from across the sensory modalities; sensory cortices, including primary regions, are no exception. Here we show that visual stimuli influence neural firing in the auditory cortex of awake male and female mice, using multisite probes to sample single units across multiple cortical layers. We demonstrate that visual stimuli influence firing in both primary and secondary auditory cortex. We then determine the laminar location of recording sites through electrode track tracing with fluorescent dye and optogenetic identification using layer-specific markers. Spiking responses to visual stimulation occur deep in auditory cortex and are particularly prominent in layer 6. Visual modulation of firing rate occurs more frequently at areas with secondary-like auditory responses than those with primary-like responses. Auditory cortical responses to drifting visual gratings are not orientation-tuned, unlike visual cortex responses. The deepest cortical layers thus appear to be an important locus for cross-modal integration in auditory cortex.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The deepest layers of the auditory cortex are often considered its most enigmatic, possessing a wide range of cell morphologies and atypical sensory responses. Here we show that, in mouse auditory cortex, these layers represent a locus of cross-modal convergence, containing many units responsive to visual stimuli. Our results suggest that this visual signal conveys the presence and timing of a stimulus rather than specifics about that stimulus, such as its orientation. These results shed light on both how and what types of cross-modal information is integrated at the earliest stages of sensory cortical processing.
Keywords: audiovisual; cortical; cross-modal; laminar; multisensory; sensory.
Copyright © 2018 the authors 0270-6474/18/382854-09$15.00/0.