Regulation of the timing of MNTB neurons by short-term and long-term modulation of potassium channels. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The firing patterns of neurons in central auditory pathways encode specific features of sound stimuli, such as frequency, intensity and localization in space. The generation of the appropriate pattern depends, to a major extent, on the properties of the voltage-dependent potassium channels in these neurons. The mammalian auditory pathways that compute the direction of a sound source are located in the brainstem and include the connection from bushy cells in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) to the principal neurons of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB). To preserve the fidelity of timing of action potentials that is required for sound localization, these neurons express several types of potassium channels, including the Kv3 and Kv1 families of voltage-dependent channels and the Slick and Slack sodium-dependent channels. These channels determine the pattern of action potentials and the amount of neurotransmitter released during repeated stimulation. The amplitude of currents carried by one of these channels, the Kv3.1b channel, is regulated in the short term by protein phosphorylation, and in the long term, by changes in gene expression, such that the intrinsic excitability of the neurons is constantly being regulated by the ambient auditory environment.

publication date

  • August 2005