To determine whether activation of different types of serotonin receptors is a source of the variability in serotonergic effects, four selective agonists of serotonin receptors in the serotonin (5-HT) 1 and 5-HT2 families were iontophoretically applied to IC neurons, which were monitored for changes in their responses to auditory stimuli.
Different agonists had different effects on neural responses.
The 5-HT1A agonist had mixed facilitatory and depressive effects, whereas 5-HT1B and 5-HT2C agonists were both largely facilitatory.
Different agonists changed threshold and frequency tuning in ways that reflected their effects on spike count.
When pairs of agonists were applied sequentially to the same neurons, selective agonists sometimes affected neurons in ways that were similar to serotonin, but not to other selective agonists tested.
Different agonists also differentially affected groups of neurons classified by the shapes of their frequency-tuning curves, with serotonin and the 5-HT1 receptors affecting proportionally more non-V-type neurons relative to the other agonists tested.
In all, evidence suggests that the diversity of serotonin receptor subtypes in the IC is likely to account for at least some of the variability of the effects of serotonin and that receptor subtypes fulfill specialized roles in auditory processing.