How Linear are Auditory Cortical Responses?

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 15 (NIPS 2002)

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Maneesh Sahani, Jennifer Linden


By comparison to some other sensory cortices, the functional proper- ties of cells in the primary auditory cortex are not yet well understood. Recent attempts to obtain a generalized description of auditory cortical responses have often relied upon characterization of the spectrotempo- ral receptive field (STRF), which amounts to a model of the stimulus- response function (SRF) that is linear in the spectrogram of the stimulus. How well can such a model account for neural responses at the very first stages of auditory cortical processing? To answer this question, we de- velop a novel methodology for evaluating the fraction of stimulus-related response power in a population that can be captured by a given type of SRF model. We use this technique to show that, in the thalamo-recipient layers of primary auditory cortex, STRF models account for no more than 40% of the stimulus-related power in neural responses.