Neural activity in the cerebral cortex can explain many aspects of sensory perception. Extensive psychophysical and neurophysiological studies of visual motion and vibrotactile processing show that the firing rate of cortical neurons averaged across 50-500 ms is well correlated with discrimination ability. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that primary auditory cortex (A1) neurons use temporal precision on the order of 1-10 ms to represent speech sounds shifted into the rat hearing range. Neural discrimination was highly correlated with behavioral performance on 11 consonant-discrimination tasks when spike timing was preserved and was not correlated when spike timing was eliminated. This result suggests that spike timing contributes to the auditory cortex representation of consonant sounds.
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