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Precisely timed inhibition facilitates action potential firing for spatial coding in the auditory brainstem

Nat Comm 9: 1771. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04210-y.

Authors/Editors: Beiderbeck B
Müller N
Myoga MH
Friauf F
Grothe B
Pecka M
Publication Date: 2018
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2001 - 2018

Abstract

The integration of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs is fundamental to neuronal processing. In the mammalian auditory brainstem, neurons compare excitatory and inhibitory inputs from the ipsilateral and contralateral ear, respectively, for sound localization. However, the temporal precision and functional roles of inhibition in this integration process are unclear. Here, we demonstrate by in vivo recordings from the lateral superior olive (LSO) that inhibition controls spiking with microsecond precision throughout high frequency click trains. Depending on the relative timing of excitation and inhibition, neuronal spike probability is either suppressed or-unexpectedly-facilitated. In vitro conductance-clamp LSO recordings establish that a reduction in the voltage threshold for spike initiation due to a prior hyperpolarization results in post-inhibitory facilitation of otherwise sub-threshold synaptic events. Thus, microsecond-precise differences in the arrival of inhibition relative to excitation can facilitate spiking in the LSO, thereby promoting spatial sensitivity during the processing of faint sounds.

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