Duration Selectivity of Neurons in the Inferior Colliculus of the Big Brown Bat: Tolerance to Changes in Sound Level
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At and above the level of the inferior colliculus (IC), some neurons respond maximally to a limited range of sound durations, with little or no excitatory response to durations outside of this range. Such neurons have been termed "duration tuned" or "duration selective." In this study we examined the effects of varying signal amplitude on best duration, width of tuning, and first spike latency of duration tuned neurons in the IC of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. Response areas as a function of stimulus duration and intensity took a variety of forms, including open (V-shaped), narrow and level tolerant (U-shaped), or closed (O-shaped). The majority (82%) of duration tuned neurons had narrow U-shaped or O-shaped duration response areas. Those with narrow U-shaped response areas retained their duration tuning across a broad dynamic range, < or = 50 dB above threshold, whereas those with O-shaped response areas were narrowly tuned to both stimulus duration and amplitude. For about one-half (55%) of the neurons with either a U- or O-shaped response areas, best duration (BD) changed by <1 ms across the range of suprathreshold amplitudes tested. Changes in BD most often took the form of a shift to slightly shorter durations as stimulus level increased. For the majority (65%) of U- and O-shaped neurons, 50% width of duration tuning changed by <2 ms with increasing amplitude. Latency of response at BD remained stable across changes in sound level, suggesting that the relative strengths of excitatory and inhibitory inputs to duration tuned neurons remain in balance over a wide dynamic range of sound pressure levels.
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