Rapid development of learning-induced receptive field plasticity in the auditory cortex

Behav Neurosci. 1993 Aug;107(4):539-51. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.107.4.539.


Classical conditioning induces frequency-specific receptive field (RF) plasticity in the auditory cortex after relatively brief training (30 trials), characterized by increased response to the frequency of the conditioned stimulus (CS) and decreased responses to other frequencies, including the pretraining best frequency (BF). This experiment determined the development of this CS-specific RF plasticity. Guinea pigs underwent classical conditioning to a tonal frequency, and receptive fields of neurons in the auditory cortex were determined before and after 5, 15, and 30 CS-US (unconditioned stimulus) pairings, as well as 1 hr posttraining. Highly selective RF changes were observed as early as the first 5 training trials. They culminated after 15 trials, then stabilized after 30 trials and 1 hr posttraining. The rapid development of RF plasticity satisfies a criterion for its involvement in the neural bases of a specific associative memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Loudness Perception / physiology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*