Multiscale mapping of frequency sweep rate in mouse auditory cortex

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Functional organization is a key feature of the neocortex that often guides studies of sensory processing, development, and plasticity. Tonotopy, which arises from the transduction properties of the cochlea, is the most widely studied organizational feature in auditory cortex; however, in order to process complex sounds, cortical regions are likely specialized for higher order features. Here, motivated by the prevalence of frequency modulations in mouse ultrasonic vocalizations and aided by the use of a multiscale imaging approach, we uncover a functional organization across the extent of auditory cortex for the rate of frequency modulated (FM) sweeps. In particular, using two-photon Ca2+ imaging of layer 2/3 neurons, we identify a tone-insensitive region at the border of AI and AAF. This central sweep region behaves fundamentally differently from nearby neurons in AI and AII, responding preferentially to fast FM sweeps but not to tones or bandlimited noise. Together these findings define a second dimension of organization in the mouse auditory cortex for sweep rate complementary to that of tone frequency.

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