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In the auditory system, distinct and reproducible transient activities responding to the onset of sound have long been the focus when characterizing the auditory cortex, i.e., tonotopic maps, subregions, and layer-specific representation. There is limited information on sustained activities because the rapid adaptation impairs reproducibility and the signal-to-noise ratio. We recently overcame this problem by focusing on neural synchrony and machine learning demonstrated that band-specific power and the phase locking value (PLV) represent sound information in a tonotopic and region-specific manner. Here, we attempted to reveal the layer-specific representation of sustained activities. A microelectrode array recorded sustained activities from layers 2/3, 4, and 5/6 of the rat auditory cortex. We characterized band-specific power and PLV patterns and applied sparse logistic regression (SLR) to discriminate (1) between the sound-induced and spontaneous activities and (2) five test frequencies from the sound-induced activities in each layer. SLR achieved the highest discrimination performance in high-gamma activities in layers 4 and 5/6, higher than in layer 2/3, indicating poor sound representation in layer 2/3. Moreover, the recording sites that contributed to the discrimination in layers 4 and 5/6 had a characteristic frequency similar to the test frequency and were often located in the belt area, indicating tonotopic and region-specific representation. These results indicate that information processing of sustained activities may depend on high-gamma oscillators, i.e., cortical inhibitory interneurons, and reflects layer-specific thalamocortical and corticocortical neural circuits in the auditory system, which may contribute to associative information processing beyond sound frequency in auditory perception.
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