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Keywords:

  • auditory cortex;
  • auditory plasticity;
  • descending projections;
  • frequency tuning;
  • inferior colliculus

Abstract

The auditory cortex (AC) is the major origin of descending auditory projections and is one of the targets of the cholinergic basal forebrain, nucleus basalis (NB). In the big brown bat, cortical activation evokes frequency-specific plasticity in the inferior colliculus and the NB augments this collicular plasticity. To examine whether cortical descending function and NB contributions to collicular plasticity are different between the bat and mouse and to extend the findings in the bat, we induced plasticity in the central nucleus of the mouse inferior colliculus by a tone paired with electrical stimulation of the NB (hereafter referred to as tone-ESNB). We show here that tone-ESNB shifted collicular best frequencies (BFs) towards the frequency of the tone paired with ESNB when collicular BFs were different from tone frequency. The shift in collicular BF was linearly correlated to the difference between collicular BFs and tone frequencies. The changes in collicular BFs after tone-ESNB were similar to those found in the big brown bat. Compared with cortical plasticity evoked by tone-ESNB, the pattern of collicular BF shifts was identical but the shifting range of collicular BFs was narrower. A GABAA agonist (muscimol) or a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist (atropine) applied to the AC completely abolished the collicular plasticity evoked by tone-ESNB. Therefore, our findings strongly suggest that the AC plays a critical role in experience-dependent auditory plasticity through descending projections.