Bilateral widefield calcium imaging reveals circuit asymmetries and lateralized functional activation of the mouse auditory cortex

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Jul 25;120(30):e2219340120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2219340120. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


Coordinated functioning of the two cortical hemispheres is crucial for perception. The human auditory cortex (ACx) shows functional lateralization with the left hemisphere specialized for processing speech, whereas the right analyzes spectral content. In mice, virgin females demonstrate a left-hemisphere response bias to pup vocalizations that strengthens with motherhood. However, how this lateralized function is established is unclear. We developed a widefield imaging microscope to simultaneously image both hemispheres of mice to bilaterally monitor functional responses. We found that global ACx topography is symmetrical and stereotyped. In both male and virgin female mice, the secondary auditory cortex (A2) in the left hemisphere shows larger responses than right to high-frequency tones and adult vocalizations; however, only virgin female mice show a left-hemisphere bias in A2 in response to adult pain calls. These results indicate hemispheric bias with both sex-independent and -dependent aspects. Analyzing cross-hemispheric functional correlations showed that asymmetries exist in the strength of correlations between DM-AAF and A2-AAF, while other ACx areas showed smaller differences. We found that A2 showed lower cross-hemisphere correlation than other cortical areas, consistent with the lateralized functional activation of A2. Cross-hemispheric activity correlations are lower in deaf, otoferlin knockout (OTOF-/-) mice, indicating that the development of functional cross-hemispheric connections is experience dependent. Together, our results reveal that ACx is topographically symmetric at the macroscopic scale but that higher-order A2 shows sex-dependent and independent lateralized responses due to asymmetric intercortical functional connections. Moreover, our results suggest that sensory experience is required to establish functional cross-hemispheric connectivity.

Keywords: auditory cortex; bilateral; experience; hemisphere; imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex* / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Calcium
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mice
  • Microscopy


  • Calcium
  • otoferlin protein, mouse
  • Membrane Proteins