Abstract

The responses of single auditory-nerve fibers in anesthetized cats to two-tone stimuli were studied. One of the two tones, F1, was near, above, or below characteristic frequency (CF). The second tone, F2, was located above CF. With sufficient care, F2 was made purely suppressive, eliciting no synchrony responses by itself. The vector phases of the associated period histogram calculated for F1 were carefully studied. For 78% of the fibers under study, a statistically significant increase in phase lag was consistently observed when a suppression of rate discharge occurred. The phase-intensity curve did not approximate a horizontally shifted version of the unsuppressed curve, as is seen for the related rate- and synchrony-intensity curves; rather, the amount of phase shift at any one stimulus condition tended to be monotonically related to the amount of rate suppression generated (vertical shift). Using two different measures, a significant correlation was found between the added phase lag and the discharge-rate reduction caused by F2. The amount of phase lag, along with the corresponding rate reduction, increases with the increasing intensity of F2 within the suppression area, and decreases as F2 moves away from it. These phase-lag effects were found to be uncorrelated with a fiber’s CF, with its spontaneous rate, with its threshold, or with its Q value. By contrast, a reduction of discharge rate due to adaptation was not accompanied by any significant phase shift. Fatigue of the fiber due to lengthy sound exposure was found to have strong effects on the shift of response phase to single-tone stimuli.

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