Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 10 (NIPS 1997)
R. DeCharms, Michael Merzenich
While the understanding of the functional role of different classes of neurons in the awake primary visual cortex has been extensively studied since the time of Hubel and Wiesel (Hubel and Wiesel, 1962), our understanding of the feature selectivity and functional role of neurons in the primary auditory cortex is much farther from com(cid:173) plete. Moving bars have long been recognized as an optimal stimulus for many visual cortical neurons, and this finding has recently been confirmed and extended in detail using reverse correlation methods (Jones and Palmer, 1987; Reid and Alonso, 1995; Reid et al., 1991; llingach et al., 1997). In this study, we recorded from neurons in the primary auditory cortex of the awake primate, and used a novel re(cid:173) verse correlation technique to compute receptive fields (or preferred stimuli), encompassing both multiple frequency components and on(cid:173) going time. These spectrotemporal receptive fields make clear that neurons in the primary auditory cortex, as in the primary visual cor(cid:173) tex, typically show considerable structure in their feature processing properties, often including multiple excitatory and inhibitory regions in their receptive fields. These neurons can be sensitive to stimulus edges in frequency composition or in time, and sensitive to stimulus transitions such as changes in frequency. These neurons also show strong responses and selectivity to continuous frequency modulated stimuli analogous to visual drifting gratings.