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Gated Visual Input to the Central Auditory System

Science  30 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5586, pp. 1556-1559
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073712

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Abstract

The central auditory system translates sound localization cues into a map of space guided, in part, by visual experience. In barn owls, this process takes place in the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICX). However, to date, no trace of visual activity has been observed in this auditory nucleus. Here we show that strong visual responses, which are appropriate to guide auditory plasticity, appear in the ICX when inhibition is blocked in the optic tectum. Thus, visual spatial information is gated into the auditory system by an inhibitory mechanism that operates at a higher level in the brain.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: yoram{at}stanford.edu

  • Present address: The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.

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