Critical period window for spectral tuning defined in the primary auditory cortex (A1) in the rat.
This study demonstrates that the adult form of 'tonotopic maps' of sound frequency in the rat primary auditory cortex (A1) arises from parallel developmental processes involving two cortical zones: the progressive differentiation and refinement of selectively tone-responsive receptive fields within an initially broadly-tuned posterior zone, and the progressive loss of tone-evoked, short-latency response over an initially large, very broadly tuned anterior zone. The formation of tonotopic maps in A1 was specifically influenced by a rat pup's early acoustic environments. Exposure to pulsed tones resulted in accelerated emergence and an expansion of A1 representations of those specific tone frequencies, as well as a deteriorated tonotopicity and broader-than-normal receptive fields. Thus, auditory experiences during early postnatal development are important in shaping the functional development of auditory cortical representations of specific acoustic environments.