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Serotonin modulates responses to species-specific vocalizations in the inferior colliculus

Abstract

Neuromodulators such as serotonin are capable of altering the neural processing of stimuli across many sensory modalities. In the inferior colliculus, a major midbrain auditory gateway, serotonin alters the way that individual neurons respond to simple tone bursts and linear frequency modulated sweeps. The effects of serotonin are complex, and vary among neurons. How serotonin transforms the responses to spectrotemporally complex sounds of the type normally heard in natural settings has been poorly examined. To explore this issue further, the effects of iontophoretically applied serotonin on the responses of individual inferior colliculus neurons to a variety of recorded species-specific vocalizations were examined. These experiments were performed in the Mexican free-tailed bat, a species that uses a rich repertoire of vocalizations for the purposes of communication as well as echolocation. Serotonin frequently changed the number of recorded calls that were capable of evoking a response from individual neurons, sometimes increasing (15% of serotonin-responsive neurons), but usually decreasing (62% of serotonin-responsive neurons), this number. A functional consequence of these serotonin-evoked changes would be to change the population response to species-specific vocalizations.

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Abbreviations

IC:

Inferior colliculus

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Carl Resler for technical assistance. Work was supported in part by NIH grants DC-20068 and DC-00391. Experiments comply with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (NIH publication 85–23, revised 1996), and were approved by the University of Texas Animal Care and Use Committee.

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Correspondence to Laura M. Hurley.

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Hurley, L.M., Pollak, G.D. Serotonin modulates responses to species-specific vocalizations in the inferior colliculus. J Comp Physiol A 191, 535–546 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-005-0623-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-005-0623-y

Keywords

  • Serotonin
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Free-tailed bat
  • Vocalization
  • Neuromodulator