Many communication sounds, such as New World monkey twitter calls, contain frequency-modulated (FM) sweeps. To determine how this prominent vocalization element is represented in the auditory cortex we examined neural responses to logarithmic FM sweep stimuli in the primary auditory cortex (AI) of two awake owl monkeys. Using an implanted array of microelectrodes we quantitatively characterized neuronal responses to FM sweeps and to random tone-pip stimuli. Tone-pip responses were used to construct spectrotemporal receptive fields (STRFs). Classification of FM sweep responses revealed few neurons with high direction and speed selectivity. Most neurons responded to sweeps in both directions and over a broad range of sweep speeds. Characteristic frequency estimates from FM responses were highly correlated with estimates from STRFs, although spectral receptive field bandwidth was consistently underestimated by FM stimuli. Predictions of FM direction selectivity and best speed from STRFs were significantly correlated with observed FM responses, although some systematic discrepancies existed. Last, the population distributions of FM responses in the awake owl monkey were similar to, although of longer temporal duration than, those in the anesthetized squirrel monkeys.
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