Local versus global scales of organization in auditory cortex

Patrick O. Kanold*, Israel Nelken, Daniel B. Polley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Topographic organization is a hallmark of sensory cortical organization. Topography is robust at spatial scales ranging from hundreds of microns to centimeters, but can dissolve at the level of neighboring neurons or subcellular compartments within a neuron. This dichotomous spatial organization is especially pronounced in the mouse auditory cortex, where an orderly tonotopic map can arise from heterogeneous frequency tuning between local neurons. Here, we address a debate surrounding the robustness of tonotopic organization in the auditory cortex that has persisted in some form for over 40 years. Drawing from various cortical areas, cortical layers, recording methodologies, and species, we describe how auditory cortical circuitry can simultaneously support a globally systematic, yet locally heterogeneous representation of this fundamental sound property.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)502-510
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
P.O.K. is supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01DC009607. D.B.P. is supported by NIH R01DC009836. I.N. is supported by grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and the European Research Council (ERC Grant Agreement RATLAND-340063).


  • Auditory cortex
  • Calcium
  • Electrophysiology
  • Frequency
  • Heterogeneity
  • Homogeneity
  • Imaging
  • Layers
  • Maps
  • Resolution
  • Scale


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