Large-scale reorganization of the tonotopic map in mouse auditory midbrain revealed by MRI

Xin Yu, Dan H. Sanes, Orlando Aristizabal, Youssef Zaim Wadghiri, Daniel H. Turnbull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cortex is thought to be the primary site of sensory plasticity, particularly during development. Here, we report that large-scale reorganization of the mouse auditory midbrain tonotopic map is induced by a specific sound-rearing environment consisting of paired low- (16 kHz) and high-frequency (40 kHz) tones. To determine the potential for plasticity in the mouse auditory midbrain, we used manganese-enhanced MRI to analyze the midbrain tonotopic maps of control mice during normal development and mice reared in the two-tone (16 + 40 kHz) environment. We found that the tonotopic map emerged during the third postnatal week in normal mice. Before 3 weeks, a larger percentage of auditory midbrain responded to each of the suprathreshold test frequencies, despite the fact that the primary afferent projections are in place even before hearing onset. By 3 weeks, the midbrain tonotopic map of control mice was established, and manganese-enhanced MRI showed a clear separation between the 16- and 40-kHz responses. Two-tone rearing dramatically altered the appearance of these discrete frequency-specific responses. A significant volume of the auditory midbrain became responsive to both rearing frequencies, resulting in a large-scale reorganization of the tonotopic map. These results indicate that developmental plasticity occurs on a much greater scale than previously appreciated in the mammalian auditory midbrain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12193-12198
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 17 2007


  • Developmental plasticity
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Neuroimaging manganese
  • Sound rearing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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