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Neuronal activity was established in the auditory pathways in relation to behavioural response and cognitive information processing during a sensory-motor acoustic learning. Rats were trained in three consecutive phases. The first phase was an association between an auditory stimulus and a food reward; the second phase a simple discrimination between two sounds of different frequency components, and the third phase a more complex discrimination involving both spectral and spatial sound dimensions. Auditory stimuli were bursts of complex sounds lasting 500 ms. Neuronal activity related to the behaviourally relevant stimuli was established in 20 "learning" rats undergoing this protocol, which were progressively sacrificed at the beginning, middle and end of each phase. For comparison, activity was also established in four "control" rats exposed to the same stimuli delivered pseudo-randomly, thus carrying no behavioural meaning. Neuronal activity was assessed immunocytochemically using the functional marker Fos. To establish a baseline, two rats were unexposed to controlled acoustic stimulation ("unstimulated" rats). In the superior olivary complex (SOC), inferior colliculus (IC) and medial geniculate body (MGB), the number of Fos-like immunopositive cells was comparable in "learning" and "control" animals, but higher than in the "unstimulated" rats. In the auditory cortex (AC), most prominently in the secondary area Te2, the number of Fos-like positive cells differed between "learning" and "control" rats, suggesting that the auditory cortical areas may be involved in the encoding of the behavioural significance of the acoustic stimuli.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Brain Res. 1999 Sep 11;841(1-2):170-83.