Objective. The corticofugal system can alter coding along the ascending sensory pathway. Within the auditory system, electrical stimulation of the auditory cortex (AC) paired with a pure tone can cause egocentric shifts in the tuning of auditory neurons, making them more sensitive to the pure tone frequency. Since tinnitus has been linked with hyperactivity across auditory neurons, we sought to develop a new neuromodulation approach that could suppress a wide range of neurons rather than enhance specific frequency-tuned neurons. Approach. We performed experiments in the guinea pig to assess the effects of cortical stimulation paired with broadband noise (PN-Stim) on ascending auditory activity within the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (CNIC), a widely studied region for AC stimulation paradigms. Main results. All eight stimulated AC subregions induced extensive suppression of activity across the CNIC that was not possible with noise stimulation alone. This suppression built up over time and remained after the PN-Stim paradigm. Significance. We propose that the corticofugal system is designed to decrease the brain's input gain to irrelevant stimuli and PN-Stim is able to artificially amplify this effect to suppress neural firing across the auditory system. The PN-Stim concept may have potential for treating tinnitus and other neurological disorders.
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