Interaural Time Difference Tuning in the Rat Inferior Colliculus is Predictive of Behavioral Sensitivity

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number108331
Journal / PublicationHearing Research
Online published8 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021


While a large body of literature has examined the encoding of binaural spatial cues in the auditory midbrain, studies that ask how quantitative measures of spatial tuning in midbrain neurons compare with an animal's psychoacoustic performance remain rare. Researchers have tried to explain deficits in spatial hearing in certain patient groups, such as binaural cochlear implant users, in terms of declines in apparent reductions in spatial tuning of midbrain neurons of animal models. However, the quality of spatial tuning can be quantified in many different ways, and in the absence of evidence that a given neural tuning measure correlates with psychoacoustic performance, the interpretation of such finding remains very tentative. Here, we characterize ITD tuning in the rat inferior colliculus (IC) to acoustic pulse train stimuli with varying envelopes and at varying rates, and explore whether quality of tuning correlates behavioral performance. We quantified both mutual information (MI) and neural d' as measures of ITD sensitivity. Neural d' values paralleled behavioral ones, declining with increasing click rates or when envelopes changed from rectangular to Hanning windows, and they correlated much better with behavioral performance than MI. Meanwhile, MI values were larger in an older, more experienced cohort of animals than in naive animals, but neural d' did not differ between cohorts. However, the results obtained with neural d' and MI were highly correlated when ITD values were coded simply as left or right ear leading, rather than specific ITD values. Thus, neural measures of lateralization ability (e.g. d' or left/right MI) appear to be highly predictive of psychoacoustic performance in a two-alternative forced choice task.

Research Area(s)

  • Interaural time difference, click trains, envelope, inferior colliculus, neural d', mutual information