Development of contralateral and ipsilateral frequency representations in ferret primary auditory cortex.
Mrsic-Flogel TD., Versnel H., King AJ.
Little is known about the maturation of functional maps in the primary auditory cortex (A1) after the onset of sensory experience. We used intrinsic signal imaging to examine the development of the tonotopic organization of ferret A1 with respect to contralateral and ipsilateral tone stimulation. Sound-evoked responses were recorded as early as postnatal day (P) 33, a few days after hearing onset. From P36 onwards, pure tone stimuli evoked restricted, tonotopically organized patches of activity. There was an age-dependent increase in the cortical area representing each octave, with a disproportionate expansion of cortical territory representing frequencies > 4 kHz after P60. Similar tonotopic maps were observed following stimulation of the contralateral and ipsilateral ears. During the first few weeks following hearing onset, no differences were found in the area of cortical activation or in the magnitude of the optical responses evoked by stimulation of each ear. In older animals, however, contralateral stimuli evoked stronger responses and activated a larger A1 area than ipsilateral stimuli. Our findings indicate that neither the tonotopic organization nor the representation of inputs from each ear reach maturity until approximately 1 month after hearing onset. These results have important implications for cortical signal processing in juvenile animals.