Spontaneous activity is correlated with coding density in primary auditory cortex

David A. Bender, Ruiye Ni, Dennis L. Barbour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Sensory neurons across sensory modalities and specific processing areas have diverse levels of spontaneous firing rates (SFRs) in the absence of sensory stimuli. However, the functional significance of this spontaneous activity is not wellunderstood. Previous studies in the auditory system have demonstrated that different levels of spontaneous activity are correlated with a variety of physiological and anatomic properties, suggesting that neurons with differing SFRs make unique contributions to the encoding of auditory stimuli. Additionally, altered SFRs are a correlate of tinnitus, arising in several auditory areas after exposure to ototoxic substances and noise trauma. In this study, we recorded single-unit activity from primary auditory cortex of awake marmoset monkeys while delivering wide-band random-spectrum stimuli and white Gaussian noise (WGN) to examine any divergences in stimulus encoding properties across SFR classes. We found that higher levels of spontaneous activity were associated with both higher levels of activation relative to suppression across a variety of wide-band stimuli and higher driven rates in response to WGN. Moreover, response latencies to WGN were negatively correlated with the level of activation in response to both stimulus types. These findings are consistent with a novel view of the role spontaneous spiking may play during normal stimulus processing in primary auditory cortex and how it may malfunction in cases of tinnitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2793-2798
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Marmoset monkey
  • Primary auditory cortex
  • Single-unit recording
  • Sparse coding
  • Spontaneous activity
  • Tinnitus


Dive into the research topics of 'Spontaneous activity is correlated with coding density in primary auditory cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this