A combination of electrophysiological mapping, behavioral analysis and cortical micro-stimulation was used to explore the interrelation between the auditory cortex and behavior in the adult rat. Auditory discriminations were evaluated in eight rats trained to discriminate the presence or absence of a 75 dB pure tone stimulus. A probe trial technique was used to obtain intensity generalization gradients that described response probabilities to mid-level tones between 0 and 75 dB. The same rats were then chronically implanted in the auditory cortex with a 16 or 32 channel tungsten microwire electrode array. Implanted animals were then trained to discriminate the presence of single electrode micro-stimulation of magnitude 90 μA (22.5 nC/phase). Intensity generalization gradients were created to obtain the response probabilities to mid-level current magnitudes ranging from 0 to 90 μA on 36 different electrodes in six of the eight rats. The 50% point (the current level resulting in 50% detections) varied from 16.7 to 69.2 μA, with an overall mean of 42.4 (±8.1) μA across all single electrodes. Cortical micro-stimulation induced sensory-evoked behavior with similar characteristics as normal auditory stimuli. The results highlight the importance of the auditory cortex in a discrimination task and suggest that micro-stimulation of the auditory cortex might be an effective means for a graded information transfer of auditory information directly to the brain as part of a cortical auditory prosthesis.
- Auditory cortex
- Sensory perception