Single-neuron representation of learned complex sounds in the auditory cortex

Meng Wang, Xiang Liao*, Ruijie Li, Shanshan Liang, Ran Ding, Jingcheng Li, Jianxiong Zhang, Wenjing He, Ke Liu, Junxia Pan, Zhikai Zhao, Tong Li, Kuan Zhang, Xingyi Li, Jing Lyu, Zhenqiao Zhou, Zsuzsanna Varga, Yuanyuan Mi, Yi Zhou, Junan YanShaoqun Zeng, Jian K. Liu, Arthur Konnerth, Israel Nelken, Hongbo Jia*, Xiaowei Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The sensory responses of cortical neuronal populations following training have been extensively studied. However, the spike firing properties of individual cortical neurons following training remain unknown. Here, we have combined two-photon Ca2+ imaging and single-cell electrophysiology in awake behaving mice following auditory associative training. We find a sparse set (~5%) of layer 2/3 neurons in the primary auditory cortex, each of which reliably exhibits high-rate prolonged burst firing responses to the trained sound. Such bursts are largely absent in the auditory cortex of untrained mice. Strikingly, in mice trained with different multitone chords, we discover distinct subsets of neurons that exhibit bursting responses specifically to a chord but neither to any constituent tone nor to the other chord. Thus, our results demonstrate an integrated representation of learned complex sounds in a small subset of cortical neurons.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number4361
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

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© 2020, The Author(s).


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