Taking advantage of behavioral changes during development and training to assess sensory coding mechanisms

Emma C. Sarro, Merri J. Rosen, Dan H. Sanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between behavioral and neural performance has been explored in adult animals, but rarely during the developmental period when perceptual abilities emerge. We used these naturally occurring changes in auditory perception to evaluate underlying encoding mechanisms. Performance of juvenile and adult gerbils on an amplitude modulation (AM) detection task was compared with response properties from auditory cortex of age-matched animals. When tested with an identical behavioral procedure, juveniles display poorer AM detection thresholds than adults. Two neurometric analyses indicate that the most sensitive juvenile and adult neurons have equivalent AM thresholds. However, a pooling neurometric revealed that adult cortex encodes smaller AM depths. By each measure, neural sensitivity was superior to psychometric thresholds. However, juvenile training improved adult behavioral thresholds, such that they verged on the best sensitivity of adult neurons. Thus, periods of training may allow an animal to use the encoded information already present in cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-154
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Auditory cortex
  • Development
  • Neurophysiology
  • Perception
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Taking advantage of behavioral changes during development and training to assess sensory coding mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this