Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27580932
Link to DOI – 10.1038/ncomms12682
Nat Commun 2016 09; 7(): 12682
Sound recognition relies not only on spectral cues, but also on temporal cues, as demonstrated by the profound impact of time reversals on perception of common sounds. To address the coding principles underlying such auditory asymmetries, we recorded a large sample of auditory cortex neurons using two-photon calcium imaging in awake mice, while playing sounds ramping up or down in intensity. We observed clear asymmetries in cortical population responses, including stronger cortical activity for up-ramping sounds, which matches perceptual saliency assessments in mice and previous measures in humans. Analysis of cortical activity patterns revealed that auditory cortex implements a map of spatially clustered neuronal ensembles, detecting specific combinations of spectral and intensity modulation features. Comparing different models, we show that cortical responses result from multi-layered nonlinearities, which, contrary to standard receptive field models of auditory cortex function, build divergent representations of sounds with similar spectral content, but different temporal structure.