A Dominance Hierarchy of Auditory Spatial Cues in Barn Owls

Neurobiology Department, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 04/2010; 5(4):e10396. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010396
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Barn owls integrate spatial information across frequency channels to localize sounds in space.
We presented barn owls with synchronous sounds that contained different bands of frequencies (3-5 kHz and 7-9 kHz) from different locations in space. When the owls were confronted with the conflicting localization cues from two synchronous sounds of equal level, their orienting responses were dominated by one of the sounds: they oriented toward the location of the low frequency sound when the sources were separated in azimuth; in contrast, they oriented toward the location of the high frequency sound when the sources were separated in elevation. We identified neural correlates of this behavioral effect in the optic tectum (OT, superior colliculus in mammals), which contains a map of auditory space and is involved in generating orienting movements to sounds. We found that low frequency cues dominate the representation of sound azimuth in the OT space map, whereas high frequency cues dominate the representation of sound elevation.
Significance: We argue that the dominance hierarchy of localization cues reflects several factors: 1) the relative amplitude of the sound providing the cue, 2) the resolution with which the auditory system measures the value of a cue, and 3) the spatial ambiguity in interpreting the cue. These same factors may contribute to the relative weighting of sound localization cues in other species, including humans.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although the use of sounds in spatial orientation is widespread among animals, only a few groups advanced such specific adaptations as echolocation. In contrast, practically all animals and night-active species in particular, must occasionally orient themselves relative to invisible but audible objects such as a hidden rival or predator. In this study, I would like to determine the impact of locating which involves the use of acoustic parameters of sender’s vocalisations by receivers and changes of positions and triangulation of sender’s vocalisations by receivers in estimating the distance to the sender during night-time territorial interactions of the corncrake (Crex crex). Males were subjected to two kinds of stimuli: approaching one, imitating the change of the distance of the calling intruder toward the focal male while keeping the direction constant, or stationary stimuli, involving acoustic stimulation with no motion. Although males subjected to approaching stimulation moved longer distances, in both stimuli groups, males moved predominantly toward or out of the playback speaker, and only occasionally made sideway movements. However, the results gave no evidence of corncrakes moving specifically in order to locate the source of the sound; they suggest that males moved toward or away from the already located sound. The fact that males moved longer distances in response to approaching than stationary stimuli indicates that they were able to perceive the change of the distance to the playback speaker based only on structural parameters or amplitude of the calls played.
    acta ethologica 01/2014; 17(1). DOI:10.1007/s10211-013-0155-3 · 0.80 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The brain integrates stimulus-driven (exogenous) activity with internally generated (endogenous) activity to compute the highest priority stimulus for gaze and attention. Little is known about how this computation is accomplished neurally. We explored the underlying functional logic in a critical component of the spatial attention network, the optic tectum (OT, superior colliculus in mammals), in awake barn owls. We found that space-specific endogenous influences, evoked by activating descending forebrain pathways, bias competition among exogenous influences, and substantially enhance the quality of the categorical neural pointer to the highest priority stimulus. These endogenous influences operate across sensory modalities. Biologically grounded modeling revealed that the observed effects on network bias and selectivity require a simple circuit mechanism: endogenously driven gain modulation of feedback inhibition among competing channels. Our findings reveal fundamental principles by which internal and external information combine to guide selection of the next target for gaze and attention.
    Neuron 09/2014; 84(1). DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.019 · 15.98 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Parkinson's disease is a debilitating movement disorder characterized by a generalized dysfunction of the nervous system, with a particularly prominent decline in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. Although there is currently no cure, drugs targeting the dopaminergic system provide major symptomatic relief. As well, agents directed to other neurotransmitter systems are of therapeutic benefit. Such drugs may act by directly improving functional deficits in these other systems, or they may restore aberrant motor activity that arises as a result of a dopaminergic imbalance. Recent research attention has focused on a role for drugs targeting the nicotinic cholinergic systems. The rationale for such work stems from basic research findings that there is an extensive overlap in the organization and function of the nicotinic cholinergic and dopaminergic systems in the basal ganglia. In addition, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) drugs could have clinical potential for Parkinson's disease. Evidence for this proposition stems from studies with experimental animal models showing that nicotine protects against neurotoxin-induced nigrostriatal damage and improves motor complications associated with l-DOPA, the "gold standard" for Parkinson's disease treatment. Nicotine interacts with multiple central nervous system receptors to generate therapeutic responses but also produces side effects. It is important therefore to identify the nAChR subtypes most beneficial for treating Parkinson's disease. Here we review nAChRs with particular emphasis on the subtypes that contribute to basal ganglia function. Accumulating evidence suggests that drugs targeting α6β2* and α4β2* nAChR may prove useful in the management of Parkinson's disease.
    Pharmacological reviews 12/2011; 63(4):938-66. DOI:10.1124/pr.110.003269 · 18.55 Impact Factor

Preview (3 Sources)

Available from