Phase locking in monaural and binaural medullary neurons: implications for binaural phenomena

J Acoust Soc Am. 1978 Aug;64(2):493-501. doi: 10.1121/1.381999.


The synchrony of neural impulses in response to low-frequency sinusoids is described for auditory medullary neurons. The results are summarized as follows: (1) In general, neural synchrony is found to improve with increases in intensity and frequency of stimulation for both monaural and binaural neurons when measurements are make in absolute time. (2) An analysis of our population of neurons implies that two separate mechanisms are responsible for the decrease in synchrony found in many neurons as compared to primarylike neurons with high-locking ability. The two mechanisms are convergence of mistimed impulses and electrontonic changes which occur in dendrites. (3) An analysis of binaural vector strength data provides an explanation for physiological differences between cyclic and noncyclic vector strengths as a function of interaural time and reveals the effects of mistimed convergence upon neural synchrony.(4) In contrast to the inferior colliculus, where the neurons discharge best with contralateral leads in time, superior olivary neurons exhibited no such preference. Some discharge best to ipsilateral while others to contralateral leads. This comparison reveals a striking difference in the coding characteristics of medullary and inferior colliculus neurons. (5) Finally, the results are compared with the psychophysically determined difference limens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Differential Threshold
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Time Factors