Emergence of tuning to natural stimulus statistics along the central auditory pathway.
Garcia-Lazaro JA., Ahmed B., Schnupp JW.
We have previously shown that neurons in primary auditory cortex (A1) of anaesthetized (ketamine/medetomidine) ferrets respond more strongly and reliably to dynamic stimuli whose statistics follow "natural" 1/f dynamics than to stimuli exhibiting pitch and amplitude modulations that are faster (1/f(0.5)) or slower (1/f(2)) than 1/f. To investigate where along the central auditory pathway this 1/f-modulation tuning arises, we have now characterized responses of neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) and the ventral division of the mediate geniculate nucleus of the thalamus (MGV) to 1/f(γ) distributed stimuli with γ varying between 0.5 and 2.8. We found that, while the great majority of neurons recorded from the ICC showed a strong preference for the most rapidly varying (1/f(0.5) distributed) stimuli, responses from MGV neurons did not exhibit marked or systematic preferences for any particular γ exponent. Only in A1 did a majority of neurons respond with higher firing rates to stimuli in which γ takes values near 1. These results indicate that 1/f tuning emerges at forebrain levels of the ascending auditory pathway.