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High-Frequency Hearing Is Required to Compute a Topographic Map of Auditory Space in the Mouse Superior Colliculus.


A topographic map of auditory space is a feature found in the superior colliculus (SC) of many species, including CBA/CaJ mice. In this genetic background, high-frequency monaural spectral cues and interaural level differences (ILDs) are used to compute spatial receptive fields (RFs) that form a topographic map along the azimuth. Unfortunately, C57BL/6 mice, a strain widely used for transgenic manipulation, display age-related hearing loss (AHL) because of an inbred mutation in the Cadherin 23 gene (Cdh23) that affects hair cell mechanotransduction. To overcome this problem, researchers have used young C57BL/6 mice in their studies, as they have been shown to have normal hearing thresholds. However, important details of the auditory response characteristics of the SC such as spectral responses and spatial localization, have not been characterized in young C57BL/6 mice. Here, we show that two- to four-month C57BL/6 mice lack neurons with frontal auditory RFs and therefore lack a topographic representation of auditory space in the SC. Analysis of the spectrotemporal RFs (STRFs) of the SC auditory neurons shows that C57BL/6 mouse SC neurons lack the ability to detect the high-frequency (>40 kHz) spectral cues that are needed to compute frontal RFs. We also show that crossing C57BL/6 mice with CBA/CaJ mice or introducing one copy of the wild-type Cdh23 to C57BL/6 mice rescues the high-frequency hearing deficit and improves the topographic map of auditory space. Taken together, these results demonstrate the importance of high-frequency hearing in computing a topographic map of auditory space.

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