What can we learn from inactivation studies? Lessons from auditory cortex

Trends Neurosci. 2022 Jan;45(1):64-77. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2021.10.005. Epub 2021 Nov 16.


Inactivation experiments in auditory cortex (AC) produce widely varying results that complicate interpretations regarding the precise role of AC in auditory perception and ensuing behaviour. The advent of optogenetic methods in neuroscience offers previously unachievable insight into the mechanisms transforming brain activity into behaviour. With a view to aiding the design and interpretation of future studies in and outside AC, here we discuss the methodological challenges faced in manipulating neural activity. While considering AC's role in auditory behaviour through the prism of inactivation experiments, we consider the factors that confound the interpretation of the effects of inactivation on behaviour, including the species, the type of inactivation, the behavioural task employed, and the exact location of the inactivation.

Keywords: behaviour; causal manipulation; hearing; lesions; optogenetics; silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Cortex* / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Optogenetics