, Volume 74, Issue 5, pp 413-425

Computer simulation of shared input among projection neurons in the dorsal cochlear nucleus

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Computer simulations of a network model of an isofrequency patch of the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) were run to explore possible mechanisms for the level-dependent features observed in the cross-correlograms of pairs of type IV units in the cat and nominal type IV units in the gerbil DCN. The computer model is based on the conceptual model (of a cat) that suggests two sources of shared input to DCN's projection neurons (type IV units): excitatory input from auditory nerves and inhibitory input from interneurons (type II units). Use of tonal stimuli is thought to cause competition between these sources resulting in the decorrelation of type IV unit activities at low levels. In the model, P-cells (projection neurons), representing type IV units, receive inhibitory input from I-cells (interneurons), representing type II units. Both sets of model neurons receive a simulated excitatory auditory nerve (AN) input from same-CF AN fibers, where the AN input is modeled as a dead-time modified Poisson process whose intensity is given by a computationally tractable discharge rate versus sound pressure level function. Subthreshold behavior of each model neuron is governed by a set of normalized state equations. The computer model has previously been shown to reproduce the major response properties of both type IV and type II units (e.g., rate-level curves and peri-stimulus time histograms) and the level-dependence of the functional type II-type IV inhibitory interaction. This model is adapted for the gerbil by simulating a reduced population of I-cells. Simulations were carried out for several auditory nerve input levels, and cross-correlograms were computed from the activities of pairs of P-cells for a complete (cat model) and reduced (gerbil model) population of I-cells. The resultant correlograms show central mounds (CMs), indicative of either shared excitatory or inhibitory input, for both spontaneous and tone-evoked driven activities. Similar to experimental results, CM amplitudes are a non-monotonic function of level and CM widths decrease as a function of level. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that shared excitatory input correlates the spontaneous activities of type IV units and shared inhibitory input correlates their driven activities. The results also suggest that the decorrelation of the activities of type IV units can result from a reduced effectiveness of the AN input as a function of increasing level. Thus, competition between the excitatory and inhibitory inputs is not required.