The role of GABAergic inhibition in shaping duration selectivity of bat inferior collicular neurons determined with temporally patterned sound trains

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A previous study has shown that duration selectivity of neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC) of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus becomes sharper with increasing pulse repetition rate (PRR). The present study examines the role of GABAergic inhibition in improving duration selectivity of bat IC neurons with PRR by means of iontophoretic application of GABA as well as its antagonist, bicuculline. Duration selectivity of IC neurons is studied by plotting the duration tuning curves with the number of impulses per pulse against the pulse duration. Duration tuning curves of IC neurons are described as band-, short-, long- and all-pass in terms of filtering properties to sound duration. Bicuculline application produces more pronounced broadening of duration tuning curves at high than at low PRR. Conversely, GABA application produces more pronounced narrowing of duration tuning curves at low than at high PRR. In either case, sharpening of duration selectivity of IC neurons with increasing PRR is abolished during drug application. The duration tuning curves of IC neurons progressively broadens with recording depth. Broadening of duration tuning curves during bicuculline application is more pronounced for neurons at upper than at deep IC. This progressive decrease in duration selectivity with recording depth is discussed in relation to spatial distribution gradient of GABAA receptors in the IC. Possible biological significance of these findings relevant to bat echolocation is discussed.

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