The long-term goal of this research is to identify the neural mechanisms by which attention and changes in context in?uence the interpretation of sounds. In its simplest form, sound interpretation requires linking acoustic signals to behavioral responses. The objective of this proposal is to de- termine the contribution of distinct auditory pathways to sound-driven choices. This research will employ the mouse as a model organism and use genetic tools to identify speci?c cell populations according to their projection patterns. The ?rst aim will test whether auditory thalamic and cortical circuits provide distinct acoustic information to basal ganglia regions involved in action selection.
The second aim will identify the acoustic features represented by neurons from distinct basal gan- glia pathways.
The third aim will test whether these neurons represent the meaning of a stimulus in addition to its acoustic features. The proposal is innovative not only in its use of genetic tools for the characterization of auditory pathways, but also in its evaluation of the role of auditory thalamic outputs to the basal ganglia. Moreover, these studies will help establish the mouse as an effective model for the study of auditory cognition, opening new avenues for detailed investigation of the neural basis of sound-driven behaviors. The proposed research is signi?cant because it addresses es- sential steps towards identifying neural sites where context and sensory information are integrated to achieve ?exible decision-making. This knowledge will greatly advance understanding of the neu- ral mechanisms underlying sound interpretation, and provide insights into how auditory cognition is affected by disease.

Public Health Relevance

Trauma and developmental abnormalities can result in conditions such as Auditory Processing Dis- order in children in which sound interpretation is impaired, despite normal hearing. The proposed research will ?ll a signi?cant gap in understanding of the role of distinct auditory pathways in sound processing and interpretation. This knowledge is a necessary step towards developing effective di- agnostic and therapeutic strategies to ameliorate conditions that affect how humans interpret the acoustic world.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
Program Officer
Poremba, Amy
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University of Oregon
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Guo, Lan; Walker, William I; Ponvert, Nicholas D et al. (2018) Stable representation of sounds in the posterior striatum during flexible auditory decisions. Nat Commun 9:1534
Ponvert, Nicholas D; Jaramillo, Santiago (2018) Auditory thalamostriatal and corticostriatal pathways convey complementary information about sound features. J Neurosci :