High-Frequency Resonance in the Gerbil Medial Superior Olive

Jason Mikiel-Hunter, Vibhakar Kotak, John Rinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A high-frequency, subthreshold resonance in the guinea pig medial superior olive (MSO) was recently linked to the efficient extraction of spatial cues from the fine structure of acoustic stimuli. We report here that MSO neurons in gerbil also have resonant properties and, based on our whole-cell recordings and computational modeling, that a low-voltage-gated potassium current, IKLT, underlies the resonance. We show that resonance was lost following dynamic clamp replacement of IKLT with a leak conductance and in the model when voltage-gating of IKLT was suppressed. Resonance was characterized using small amplitude sinusoidal stimuli to generate impedance curves as typically done for linear systems analysis. Extending our study into the nonlinear, voltage-dependent regime, we increased stimulus amplitude and found, experimentally and in simulations, that the subthreshold resonant frequency (242Hz for weak stimuli) increased continuously to the resonant frequency for spiking (285Hz). The spike resonance of these phasic-firing (type III excitable) MSO neurons and of the model is of particular interest also because previous studies of resonance typically involved neurons/models (type II excitable, such as the standard Hodgkin-Huxley model) that can fire tonically for steady inputs. To probe more directly how these resonances relate to MSO neurons as slope-detectors, we presented periodic trains of brief, fast-rising excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSCs) to the model. While weak subthreshold EPSC trains were essentially low-pass filtered, resonance emerged as EPSC amplitude increased. Interestingly, for spike-evoking EPSC trains, the threshold amplitude at spike resonant frequency (317Hz) was lower than the single ESPC threshold. Our finding of a frequency-dependent threshold for repetitive brief EPSC stimuli and preferred frequency for spiking calls for further consideration of both subthreshold and suprathreshold resonance to fast and precise temporal processing in the MSO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1005166
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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