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Different mechanisms are responsible for dishabituation of electrophysiological auditory responses to a change in acoustic identity than to a change in stimulus location

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tom SmuldersORCiD


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Repeated exposure to an auditory stimulus leads to habituation of the electrophysiological and immediate-early-gene (IEG) expression response in the auditory system. A novel auditory stimulus reinstates this response in a form of dis-habituation. This has been interpreted as the start of new memory formation for this novel stimulus. Changes in the location of an otherwise identical auditory stimulus can also dis-habituate the IEG expression response. In this study, we ask whether this dis-habituation should be interpreted as new neuronal memory formation for an auditory object that includes spatial location. To answer this question, we used a chronic multi-electrode array to record multi-unit activity from the auditory system of awake and behaving female zebra finches. For the first time in awake, behaving birds, we found habituation to repeated exposure to the same song and dis-habituation with a novel song, similar to that described in head-fixed, restrained animals. In addition, a large proportion of recording sites showed dis-habituation when the same auditory stimulus was moved to a novel location. However, when the song was randomly moved among 8 interleaved locations, habituation occurred independently of the continuous changes in location. When 8 different stimuli were interleaved all from the same location, habituation occurred to each stimulus separately. The dis-habituation-like increase in activity therefore happens in response to an unexpected change in location of the auditory stimulus, but not to expected changes. This suggests that the auditory system does not include location as part of the auditory memory for the stimulus, although its “mobility” may be encoded at some level.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smulders TV, Jarvis ED

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Year: 2013

Volume: 106

Pages: 163-176

Print publication date: 30/08/2013

ISSN (print): 1074-7427

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9564

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.08.010


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Funder referenceFunder name
David and Lucille Packard Foundation Award
institutional NRSA post-doctoral training grant Department of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center
R01-DC007996NSF & NIH CRCNS from NIDCD