Response features across the auditory midbrain reveal an organization consistent with a dual lemniscal pathway

Małgorzata M. Straka, Samuel Schmitz, Hubert H. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The central auditory system has traditionally been divided into lemniscal and nonlemniscal pathways leading from the midbrain through the thalamus to the cortex. This view has served as an organizing principle for studying, modeling, and understanding the encoding of sound within the brain. However, there is evidence that the lemniscal pathway could be further divided into at least two subpathways, each potentially coding for sound in different ways. We investigated whether such an interpretation is supported by the spatial distribution of response features in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC), the part of the auditory midbrain assigned to the lemniscal pathway. We recorded responses to pure tone stimuli in the ICC of ketamine-xylazine-anesthetized guinea pigs and used three-dimensional brain reconstruction techniques to map the location of the recording sites. Compared with neurons in caudal-and-medial regions within an isofrequency lamina of the ICC, neurons in rostral-and-lateral regions responded with shorter first-spike latencies with less spiking jitter, shorter durations of spiking responses, a higher proportion of spikes occurring near the onset of the stimulus, lower thresholds, and larger local field potentials with shorter latencies. Further analysis revealed two distinct clusters of response features located in either the caudal-and-medial or the rostral-and-lateral parts of the isofrequency laminae of the ICC. Thus we report substantial differences in coding properties in two regions of the ICC that are consistent with the hypothesis that the lemniscal pathway is made up of at least two distinct subpathways from the midbrain up to the cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-988
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


  • Auditory cortex
  • Functional organization
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Lemniscal
  • Medial geniculate


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