Spatial size tuning in the visual cortex has been considered as an important neuronal functional property for sensory perception. However, an analogous mechanism in the auditory system has remained controversial. In the present study, cell-attached recordings in the primary auditory cortex (A1) of awake mice revealed that excitatory neurons can be categorized into three types according to their bandwidth tuning profiles in response to band-passed noise (BPN) stimuli: nonmonotonic (NM), flat, and monotonic, with the latter two considered as non-tuned for bandwidth. The prevalence of bandwidth-tuned (i.e., NM) neurons increases significantly from layer 4 to layer 2/3. With sequential cell-attached and whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings from the same neurons, we found that the bandwidth preference of excitatory neurons is largely determined by the excitatory synaptic input they receive, and that the bandwidth selectivity is further enhanced by flatly tuned inhibition observed in all cells. The latter can be attributed at least partially to the flat tuning of parvalbumin inhibitory neurons. The tuning of auditory cortical neurons for bandwidth of BPN may contribute to the processing of complex sounds.
Keywords: excitatory and inhibitory synaptic mechanism; inhibitory cortical neurons; primary auditory cortex; size tuning.
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