Variability and information content in auditory cortex spike trains during an interval-discrimination task

Juan M. Abolafia, M. Martinez-Garcia, G. Deco, M. V. Sanchez-Vives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Process-ing of temporal information is key in auditory processing. In this study, we recorded single-unit activity from rat auditory cortex while they performed an interval-discrimination task. The animals had to decide whether two auditory stimuli were separated by either 150 or 300 ms and nose-poke to the left or to the right accordingly. The spike firing of single neurons in the auditory cortex was then compared in engaged vs. idle brain states. We found that spike firing variability measured with the Fano factor was markedly reduced, not only during stimulation, but also in between stimuli in engaged trials. We next explored if this decrease in variability was associated with an increased information encoding. Our information theory analysis revealed increased information content in auditory responses during engagement compared with idle states, in particular in the responses to task-relevant stimuli. Altogether, we demonstrate that task-engagement significantly modulates coding properties of auditory cortical neurons during an interval-discrimination task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2163-2174
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory cortex
  • Auditory processing
  • Firing modulation

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