Spatial receptive fields of inferior colliculus neurons to auditory apparent motion in free field

Neil J. Ingham*, Heledd C. Hart, David McAlpine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


We examined responses from 91 single-neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC) of anesthetized guinea pigs to auditory apparent motion in the free field. Apparent motion was generated by presenting 100-ms tone bursts, separated by 50-ms silent intervals, at consecutive speaker positions in an array of 11 speakers, positioned in an arc ± 112.5° around midline. Most neurons demonstrated discrete spatial receptive fields (SRFs) to apparent motion in the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. However, SRFs showed marked differences for apparent motion in opposite directions. In virtually all neurons, mean best azimuthal positions for SRFs to opposite directions occurred at earlier positions in the motion sweep, producing receptive fields to the two directions of motion that only partially overlapped. Despite this, overall spike counts to the two directions were similar for equivalent angular velocities. Responses of 28 neurons were recorded to stimuli with different duration silent intervals between speaker presentations, mimicking different apparent angular velocities. Increasing the stimulus OFF time increased neuronal discharge rates, particularly at later portions of the apparent motion sweep, and reduced the differences in the SRFs to opposite motion directions. Consequently SRFs to both directions broadened and converged with decreasing motion velocity. This expansion was most obvious on the outgoing side of the each SRF. Responses of 11 neurons were recorded to short (90°) partially overlapping apparent motion sweeps centered at different spatial positions. Nonoverlapping response profiles were recorded in 9 of the 11 neurons tested and confirmed that responses at each speaker position were dependent on the preceding response history. Together these data are consistent with the suggestion that a mechanism of adaptation of excitation contributes to the apparent sensitivity of IC neurons to auditory motion cues. In addition, the data indicate that the sequential activation of an array of speakers to produce apparent auditory motion may not be an optimal stimulus paradigm to separate the temporal and spatial aspects of auditory motion processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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