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The Maturation of the Superior Collicular Map of Auditory Space in the Guinea Pig is Disrupted by Developmental Auditory Deprivation

Authors

  • D. J. Withington-Wray,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK
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  • K. E. Binns,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK
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  • S. S. Dhanjal,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK
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  • S. G. Brickley,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK
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  • M. J. Keating

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK
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Correspondence to: M. J. Keating, as above

Abstract

Guinea pigs, reared from birth in an environment of omnidirectional white noise, fail to develop a map of auditory space in the deeper layers of the superior colliculus. Collicular responses from such noise-reared animals reveal large auditory spatial receptive fields. The representation of auditory space in the colliculus shows no topographic order. Exposing developing animals to the noise environment only for restricted time periods showed that animals reared normally up to 26 days after birth (DAB) and then placed in the noise chamber could not construct spatial maps, whereas animals reared normally to 30 DAB and then placed in the noise chamber until the terminal mapping experiment could construct topographically organized spatial maps with local receptive fields. Limiting the noise exposure to the period between 26 and 30 DAB was sufficient to prevent spatial map formation. The failure to form a map of auditory space did not reflect environmental damage to the cochlea or the functional organization of the primary auditory pathway. The response thresholds of cochlear microphonics and of auditory responses in both the inferior and superior colliculus were normal in noise-reared animals. Similarly normal were the tonotopic organization and frequency tuning characteristics of inferior collicular neurons. The rearing environment thus appears to exert a selective effect upon the maturation of the superior collicular map of auditory space. We attribute this effect to the masking, by the omnidirectional broad-band noise, of discrete localized auditory stimuli. Cues deriving from these latter stimuli would appear to be necessary for the elaboration of the map of auditory space. This auditory experience operates during a 4 day crucial developmental period from 26 to 30 DAB. This is the same developmental time window as that during which visual experience is required for the construction of the map.

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