The inferior colliculus (IC) is among the largest nuclei in the central auditory system and is considered to be a major integration center in the auditory pathway. To understand how IC contributes to auditory processing, we investigated the effects of preceding hyperpolarization on membrane excitability and firing behavior of neurons located in the dorsal cortex of the inferior colliculus (ICD). We made whole-cell patch clamp recordings from ICD neurons (n=96) in rat brain slices. We classified ICD neurons into three types, i.e. sustained-regular, sustained-adapting and buildup, according to their responses to depolarizing current injection. Nearly 91% of the neurons had sustained firing throughout the period of current injection, showing either regular or adapting pattern. About 9% of the neurons exhibited a buildup pattern, in which sustained firing started after a long delay. Rebound depolarization and spikes after hyperpolarization were seen in 51.7% of the sustained neurons, but were not seen in buildup neurons. When depolarizing current was preceded by a hyperpolarizing current, various forms of the modification on membrane excitability were observed. For non-rebound neurons, the membrane excitability was either suppressed or unchanged after pre-hyperpolarization. The first spike latency lengthened in neurons whose firing changed to a buildup pattern, shortened in those whose firing changed to a pauser pattern, and remained unchanged in those whose discharge pattern remained sustained. For rebound neurons, the firing rate decreased in neurons whose firing pattern was changed to onset or pauser, increased in neurons whose firing was changed to adapting, or remained unchanged in neurons whose firing became irregular. The first spike latency was shortened in all the rebound cells. The results suggest that intrinsic membrane properties can play an important role in integration of excitatory and inhibitory inputs and thereby in determination of the output of ICD neurons.

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Keywords action potential, auditory system, brain slice, hearing, intrinsic membrane properties, patch clamp recording
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Journal Neuroscience
Sun, H, & Wu, S.H. (S. H.). (2008). Modification of membrane excitability of neurons in the rat's dorsal cortex of the inferior colliculus by preceding hyperpolarization. Neuroscience, 154(1), 257–272. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.10.055