Speech and other natural vocalizations are characterized by large modulations in their sound envelope. The timing of these modulations contains critical information for discrimination of important features, such as phonemes.Westudied how depression of synaptic inputs, a mechanism frequently reported in cortex, can contribute to the encoding of envelope dynamics. Using a nonlinear stimulus-response model that accounted for synaptic depression, we predicted responses of neurons in ferret primary auditory cortex (A1) to stimuli with natural temporal modulations. The depression model consistently performed better than linear and second-order models previously used to characterize A1 neurons, and it produced more biologically plausible fits. To test how synaptic depression can contribute to temporal stimulus integration, we used nonparametric maximum a posteriori decoding to compare the ability of neurons showing and not showing depression to reconstruct the stimulus envelope. Neurons showing evidence for depression reconstructed stimuli over a longer range of latencies. These findings suggest that variation in depression across the cortical population supports a rich code for representing the temporal dynamics of natural sounds.
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