RTG 2175 Perception in Context and its neural Basis
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TP Grothe/Leibold: Plasticity of spatial coding in auditory cortex

PhD student Matthias Gumbert:

"Spatial hearing, hence, the ability to localize as well as spatially separate sound sources, is of critical importance to a wide range of behaviours, including foraging, escape, and vocal communication. Although much is known about the cues used to encode auditory space, the manner in which auditory space is represented in the mammalian brain remains debated. In the auditory cortex (AC) it has become generally accepted that most neurons are broadly tuned to the contralateral hemisphere (referred two as the two-channel population code), but that attention can cause much sharper tuning of individual neurons. The manner in which attention modulates the population spatial code in the AC, however, is unknown.
This project will investigate plasticity of spatial coding in the mouse AC using 2-photon imaging of large populations of neurons. Here, the extent to which attention influences the population code for space in AC will be determined. Using a combination of genetic tools and optical stimulation methods, the involvement of specific subpopulations of neurons within the cortical network will be further examined. The results of this study will provide insight into the dynamics underlying plasticity of spatial processing in the AC, which is of crucial importance to our understanding of how auditory space is represented in the mammalian brain."