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Keywords:

  • auditory cortex;
  • tonotopic organization;
  • electrophysiology

Abstract

The frequency representation within the auditory cortex of the anaesthetized Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) was studied using standard microelectrode (essentially multiunit) mapping techniques. A large tonotopically organized primary auditory field (AI) was identified. High best frequencies (BFs) were represented rostrally and low BFs caudally along roughly dorsoventrally oriented isofrequency contours. Additional tonotopic representations were found adjacent to AI. Rostral to AI was a smaller field with a complete tonotopic gradient reversed with respect to that in AI (mirror image representation) and was termed the anterior auditory field (AAF). BFs in the range from 0.1 to 43 kHz, apparently covering the hearing range of the Mongolian gerbil, were found in AI and AAF. Units in these two core fields responded to narrow frequency ranges with short latencies. Ventral to the common high-frequency border to AAF and AI, a rapid transition to very low BFs suggested the presence of a ventral field (V). Caudal to AI two small tonotopically organized fields were identified, a dorsoposterior field (DP) and a ventroposterior field (VP). The VP showed a tonotopic organization mirror imaged to that of AI, i.e. low frequencies were represented rostrally near the caudal border of AI, and high frequencies caudally. The DP showed a concentric frequency organization with high BFs located in the centre. Units in DP and VP fired less strongly, with considerably longer latencies, and responded to a broader range of frequencies than units in AI and AAF. Dorsocaudal to AI a dorsal field (D) was identified, harbouring units that responded to very broad ranges of frequencies. A tonotopic organization of field D could not be discerned. In the border region of AI and D, low-frequency responses were similar to those found in parts of AI and AAF, but without a clear-cut tonotopic organization. This region was termed Aid. The two core fields AI and AAF appeared to be located within the koniocortex, while the remaining fields lay outside. Our data show that the organization of the gerbil auditory cortex is highly elaborate, with parcellation into fields as complex as in cat or primates.