• auditory maps;
  • auditory midbrain;
  • FM sensitivity;
  • frequency tuning;
  • tone response patterns


In auditory maps of the primary auditory cortex, neural response properties are arranged in a systematic way over the cortical surface. As in the visual system, such maps may play a critical role in the representation of sounds for perception and cognition. By recording from single neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) of the mouse, we present the first evidence for spatial organizations of parameters of frequency sweeps (sweep speed, upward/downward sweep direction) and of whole-field tone response patterns together with a map of frequency tuning curve shape. The maps of sweep speed, tone response patterns and tuning curve shape are concentrically arranged on frequency band laminae of the ICC with the representation of slow speeds, build up response types and sharp tuning mainly in the centre of a lamina, and all (including high) speeds, phasic response types and broad tuning mainly in the periphery. Representation of sweep direction shows preferences for upward sweeps medially and laterally and downward sweeps mainly centrally in the ICC (either striped or concentric map). These maps are compatible with the idea of a gradient of decreasing inhibition from the centre to the periphery of the ICC and by gradients of intrinsic neuronal properties (onset or sustained responding). The maps in the inferior colliculus compare favourably with corresponding maps in the primary auditory cortex, and we show how the maps of sweep speed and direction selectivity of the primary auditory cortex could be derived from the here-found maps of the inferior colliculus.