Original Paper

Brain Topography

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 599-610

First online:

Stimulus-Specific Adaptation in Field Potentials and Neuronal Responses to Frequency-Modulated Tones in the Primary Auditory Cortex

  • Carsten KleinAffiliated withInstitute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Goethe University FrankfurtMax Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
  • , Wolfger von der BehrensAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroinformatics, ETH and University of Zurich
  • , Bernhard H. GaeseAffiliated withInstitute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Goethe University Frankfurt Email author 

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In order to structure the sensory environment our brain needs to detect changes in the surrounding that might indicate events of presumed behavioral relevance. A characteristic brain response presumably related to the detection of such novel stimuli is termed mismatch negativity (MMN) observable in human scalp recordings. A candidate mechanism underlying MMN at the neuronal level is stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA) which has several characteristics in common. SSA is the specific decrease in the response to a frequent stimulus, which does not generalize to an interleaved rare stimulus in a sequence of events. SSA was so far mainly described for changes in the response to simple pure tone stimuli differing in tone frequency. In this study we provide data from the awake rat auditory cortex on adaptation in the responses to frequency-modulated tones (FM) with the deviating feature being the direction of FM modulation. Adaptation of cortical neurons to the direction of FM modulation was stronger for slow modulation than for faster modulation. In contrast to pure tone SSA which showed no stimulus preference, FM adaptation in neuronal data differed sometimes between upward and downward FM. This, however, was not the case in the local field potential data recorded simultaneously. Our findings support the role of the auditory cortex as the source for change-related activity induced by FM stimuli by showing that dynamic stimulus features such as FM modulation can evoke SSA in the rat in a way very similar to FM-induced MMN in the human auditory cortex.


SSA Stimulus-specific adaptation Mismatch negativity Auditory cortex Extracellular recording Frequency-modulated tone Awake rat