Contributions of sensory tuning to auditory-vocal interactions in marmoset auditory cortex

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Abstract

During speech, humans continuously listen to their own vocal output to ensure accurate communication. Such self-monitoring is thought to require the integration of information about the feedback of vocal acoustics with internal motor control signals. The neural mechanism of this auditory-vocal interaction remains largely unknown at the cellular level. Previous studies in naturally vocalizing marmosets have demonstrated diverse neural activities in auditory cortex during vocalization, dominated by a vocalization-induced suppression of neural firing. How underlying auditory tuning properties of these neurons might contribute to this sensory-motor processing is unknown. In the present study, we quantitatively compared marmoset auditory cortex neural activities during vocal production with those during passive listening. We found that neurons excited during vocalization were readily driven by passive playback of vocalizations and other acoustic stimuli. In contrast, neurons suppressed during vocalization exhibited more diverse playback responses, including responses that were not predictable by auditory tuning properties. These results suggest that vocalization-related excitation in auditory cortex is largely a sensory-driven response. In contrast, vocalization-induced suppression is not well predicted by a neuron's auditory responses, supporting the prevailing theory that internal motor-related signals contribute to the auditory-vocal interaction observed in auditory cortex.

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