Secondary auditory cortex mediates a sensorimotor mechanism for action timing

Nat Neurosci. 2022 Mar;25(3):330-344. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01025-5. Epub 2022 Mar 7.


The ability to accurately determine when to perform an action is a fundamental brain function and vital to adaptive behavior. The behavioral mechanism and neural circuit for action timing, however, remain largely unknown. Using a new, self-paced action timing task in mice, we found that deprivation of auditory, but not somatosensory or visual input, disrupts learned action timing. The hearing effect was dependent on the auditory feedback derived from the animal's own actions, rather than passive environmental cues. Neuronal activity in the secondary auditory cortex was found to be both correlated with and necessary for the proper execution of learned action timing. Closed-loop, action-dependent optogenetic stimulation of the specific task-related neuronal population within the secondary auditory cortex rescued the key features of learned action timing under auditory deprivation. These results unveil a previously underappreciated sensorimotor mechanism in which the secondary auditory cortex transduces self-generated audiomotor feedback to control action timing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex* / physiology
  • Cues
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology
  • Hearing
  • Learning
  • Mice