A role of oligodendrocytes in information processing independent of conduction velocity
. 2019-08-16; :
Myelinating oligodendrocytes enable fast impulse propagation along axons as revealed through studies of homogeneously myelinated white matter tracts. However, gray matter myelination patterns are different, with sparsely myelinated sections leaving large portions of the axons naked. The consequences of this patchy myelination for oligodendrocyte function are not understood but suggest other roles in information processing beyond the regulation of axonal conduction velocity. Here, we analyzed the contribution of myelin to auditory information processing using paradigms that are good predictors of speech understanding in humans. We compared mice with different degrees of dysmyelination using acute cortical multiunit recordings in combination with behavioral readouts. We identified complex alterations of neuronal responses that reflect fatigue and temporal acuity deficits. Partially discriminable but overall similar deficits were observed in mice with oligodendrocytes that can myelinate but cannot fully support axons metabolically. Thus, myelination contributes to sustained stimulus perception in temporally complex paradigms, revealing a role of oligodendrocytes in the CNS beyond the increase of axonal conduction velocity.