We examined the sensitivity of the neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC) in male and female rats to the interaural time differences (ITDs) conveyed in electrical pulse trains. Using bipolar pairs of electrodes that selectively activate the auditory nerve fibers at different intracochlear locations, we assessed whether the responses to electrical stimulation with ITDs in different frequency regions were processed differently. Most well-isolated single units responded to the electrical stimulation in only one of the apical or basal cochlear regions, and they were classified as either apical or basal units. Regardless of the cochlear stimulating location, more than 70% of both apical and basal units were sensitive to ITDs of electrical stimulation. However, the pulse rate dependence of neural ITD sensitivity differed significantly depending on the location of the stimulation. Moreover, ITD discrimination thresholds and the relative incidence of ITD tuning type markedly differed between units activated by apical and basal stimulations. With apical stimulation, IC neurons had a higher incidence of peak-type ITD function, which mostly exhibited the steepest position of the tuning curve within the rat's physiological ITD range of ±160 μs and, accordingly, had better ITD discrimination thresholds than those with basal stimulation. These results support the idea that ITD processing in the IC might be determined by functionally segregated frequency-specific pathways from the cochlea to the auditory midbrain.
Keywords: RRID:SCR_001622; RRID:SCR_00190; RRID:SCR_006495; RRID:SCR_019096; cochlear implant; inferior colliculus; interaural time difference.
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