Abstract

We investigated the format of the code for sound location in the inferior colliculi of three awake monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We found that roughly half of our sample of 99 neurons was sensitive to the free-field locations of broadband noise presented in the frontal hemisphere. Such neurons nearly always responded monotonically as a function of sound azimuth, with stronger responses for more contralateral sound locations. Few, if any, neurons had circumscribed receptive fields. Spatial sensitivity was broad: the proportion of the total sample of neurons responding to a sound at a given location ranged from 30% for ipsilateral locations to 80% for contralateral locations. These findings suggest that sound azimuth is represented via a population rate code of very broadly responsive neurons in primate inferior colliculi. This representation differs in format from the place code used for encoding the locations of visual and tactile stimuli and poses problems for the eventual convergence of auditory and visual or somatosensory signals. Accordingly, models for converting this representation into a place code are discussed.

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