Journal of Neurophysiology vol:99 issue:4 pages:1942-52
II. Auditory nerve. Low-frequency neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC) show a damped oscillatory response as a function of interaural time differences (ITDs) of broadband noise. It was previously shown that several features of such noise-delay functions are well predicted by the composite curve, generated by the linear summation of responses to tones with varying ITD. This indicates a surprising degree of linearity at the midbrain level of the auditory pathway. A similar comparison between responses to tones and to noise has not been made at a more peripheral, monaural level and it is therefore unclear to what extent this linearity reflects peripheral physiology. Here, we compare cat auditory nerve responses to broadband noise and to isolevel tones. We constructed shuffled autocorrelograms for responses to tones and summed across frequencies to obtain a monaural composite curve. We then compare this composite curve to the shuffled autocorrelogram of responses to broadband noise and find that the match between tonal and noise responses is poorer at the level of the auditory nerve than at the level of the IC. The apparent linearity of responses in the IC is thus even more surprising than was apparent from its original report because it results from mechanisms interposed between the auditory nerve and the IC.