Interaural time and intensity coding in superior olivary complex and inferior colliculus of the echolocating bat Molossus ater

J Neurophysiol. 1985 Jan;53(1):89-109. doi: 10.1152/jn.1985.53.1.89.


Single-unit responses to tonal stimulation with interaural disparities were recorded in the nuclei of the superior olivary complex (SOC) and the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) of the echolocating bat, Molossus ater. Seventy-six units were recorded from the ICC and 74 from the SOC; of the SOC units, 31 were histologically verified in the medial superior olive (MSO), 10 in the lateral superior olive (LSO), and 33 in unidentified areas of the SOC. Best frequencies (BFs) of the units ranged from 10.3 to 89.6 kHz, and Q10 dB values ranged from 2 to 70 dB. Most ICC neurons responded phasically to stimulus onset and were either inhibitory/excitatory [I/E; (53)] or excitatory/excitatory [E/E; (21)] units. In the MSO, 23 units responded tonically and 7 phasically on, 18 were E/E or E/OF (facilitatory for other input) units, and 11 were I/E neurons. All LSO neurons responded in a "chopper" fashion, and the binaural neurons were E/I units. In E/E units the excitatory response to binaural stimulation was frequently larger than the sum of the monaurally evoked responses. Many neurons with E/I or I/E inputs had very steep binaural impulse-count functions and were sensitive to small interaural intensity differences. Twenty-eight units (24%) responded with a change in firing rate of at least 20% to interaural time differences of +/- 500 microseconds. Within this sample, 11 units (8 from ICC, 2 from MSO, and 1 from SOC) were sensitive to interaural time differences of only +/- 50 microseconds. Of these 11 units, 10 were I/E units responding phasically only to stimulus onset and were also sensitive to intensity differences (delta I), being suppressed completely by the inhibitory input over a delta I range of 20 dB or less. Of 117 units tested in the ICC and SOC nuclei, 86 units (76%) were not sensitive to interaural time disparities within +/- 500 microseconds. Because the BFs of these units sensitive to interaural transient time differences (delta t) ranged between 18 and 90 kHz, responses were elicited by pure tones, and responses did not change periodically with the period equal to that of the stimulus frequency, we conclude that the neurons reacted to interaural differences of stimulus-onset time (transient time difference) but not to phase differences (ongoing time difference). Sensitivity to interaural time differences was also correlated with interaural intensity differences.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Echolocation / physiology
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Loudness Perception / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Psychoacoustics