Research Summary

Animals rely on sounds for survival (detect, locate, and communicate the presence predators), and social/reproductive interactions. These behaviors require that an animal’s brain recognize and categorize sounds, assign communicative importance, and identify meaningful sounds in a noisy environment. The auditory cortex performs these seemingly effortless yet functionally challenging tasks. How the auditory cortex performs these functions is not known in large part because the wiring diagram of this brain area has been understudied. The organization of the cerebral cortex may appear stereotyped, but new tools that allow detailed investigation of neural circuits have revealed significant differences between cortical areas that perform different functions. These circuit specializations embedded in stereotyped modules are now believed to be the secret ingredients that enable cortical areas to perform specific tasks. Our goal is to reveal these unique circuit features in the auditory cortex and determine their behavioral significance.