Journal of Neuroscience vol:26 issue:1 pages:96-108
Binaural neurons show remarkable sensitivity to temporal differences in the waveforms at the two ears. This ability obviously requires temporal coding of sound waveforms in the monaural afferents that converge on such binaural neurons. We introduce a new analysis to investigate how well responses of single monaural neurons support discrimination of decorrelations in waveforms. Spike trains from auditory nerve (AN) and anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) neurons of cats to many repetitions of a set of broadband and narrowband noise tokens were obtained. The normalized correlation between the noise tokens ranged from 0.99 to -1. A coincidence and signal detection analysis was used to perform a correlation discrimination task using the monaural spike trains. The correlation discrimination thresholds derived from AVCN neurons were lower than those derived from AN fibers and sometimes as low as human psychophysical just noticeable differences. Importantly, low detection thresholds required comparisons of spike trains at small internal delays. Bandwidth dependence of neural decorrelation thresholds agreed with psychophysical data when large internal delays contributed to the detection. We conclude that, in the context of correlation discrimination, coding by AVCN fibers is superior to that by AN fibers and that these discriminations require a distribution of internal or best delays in binaural processing that differs from the predictions from studies of discrimination in interaural time delays.