, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 506-517

Corticofugal modulation of the information processing in the auditory thalamus of the cat

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Summary

Single unit activity of 355 cells was recorded in the auditory thalamus of anesthetized cats before, during, and after the inactivation by cooling of the ipsilateral primary auditory cortex (AI). Most of the units (n = 288) showed similar functional characteristics of firing before and after the cryogenic blockade of AI. The spontaneous firing rate remained unchanged by cooling in 20% of the units and decreased in the majority of them (60%). In some regions, i.e. dorsal division of the medial geniculate body (MGB), lateral part of the posterior group of the thalamus, and auditory sector of the reticular nucleus of the thalamus, the maximum firing rate evoked by white noise bursts was generally affected by cooling in the same direction and to the same extent as the spontaneous activity. Units in the ventral division of MGB showed a characteristic increase of signal-to-noise ratio during cortical cooling. The corticofugal modulation led to the appearance or disappearance of the best frequency of tuning in 51 units and changed it by more than 0.5 octave in 34 units. The bandwidths of different response patterns to pure tones stimulation were used to define a set of functional properties. During cryogenic blockade of AI, two cortically modulated sub-populations of units were usually distinguished that exhibited changes for a given functional property. The complexity and diversity of the effects of cortical inactivation suggest that the corticothalamic projection may be the support for selective operations such as an adaptive filtering of the incoming acoustic signal at the thalamic level adjusted as a function of cortical activity.