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Effects of sleep on the responses of single cells in the lateral superior olive.

M. Pedemonte, J. L. Pena, G. Morales-Cobas, R. A. Velluti


The effects of behavioral shifts on auditory lateral superior olive neurons were analyzed in guinea-pigs during the sleep-waking cycle with single unit extracellular recordings at the unit characteristic frequency and with low sound intensity. Shifts in the number of spikes in response to pure tones and in spontaneous firing proved to be closely related to waking, slow wave and paradoxical sleep. All of the recorded lateral superior olive (LSO) auditory neurons showed sleep-related firing shifts. Moreover, changes in the pattern of discharge over time were observed in 15% of the LSO cells on passing from waking to sleep. Sleep may determine either an increase or a decrease of the firing number in response to sound. The most important change observed in decreasing firing units was the near-absence of units responding to sound in the paradoxical sleep phase during the last 40 ms of the response. The waking cues for binaural detection, studied with our experimental paradigm, disappeared during slow wave sleep. We thus conclude that the binaural function of some lateral superior olive neurons (11.5%) was impaired during this sleep period in the present experimental conditions. Auditory efferent pathways are postulated to impinge on the auditory processing at LSO nucleus level during the sleep-waking cycle. Thus, auditory unitary activity appears to be dependent on both incoming information, and a CNS descending action closely related to the waking and sleep periods. Functional interactions between pontine sleep-related groups of neurons and auditory system units are suggested.

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