Sound localization by barn owls in a simulated echoic environment

Spitzer, Matt & Takahashi, Terry (2006) Sound localization by barn owls in a simulated echoic environment. Journal of Neurophysiology, 95(6), pp. 3571-3584.

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We examined the accuracy and precision with which the barn owl (Tyto alba) turns its head toward sound sources under conditions that evoke the precedence effect (PE) in humans. Stimuli consisted of 25-ms noise bursts emitted from two sources, separated horizontally by 40°, and temporally by 3–50 ms. At delays from 3 to 10 ms, head turns were always directed at the leading source, and were nearly as accurate and precise as turns toward single sources, indicating that the leading source dominates perception. This lead dominance is particularly remarkable, first, because on some trials, the lagging source was significantly higher in amplitude than the lead, arising from the directionality of the owl's ears, and second, because the temporal overlap of the two sounds can degrade the binaural cues with which the owl localizes sounds. With increasing delays, the influence of the lagging source became apparent as the head saccades became increasingly biased toward the lagging source. Furthermore, on some of the trials at delays ≥20 ms, the owl turned its head, first, in the direction of one source, and then the other, suggesting that it was able to resolve two separately localizable sources. At all delays <50 ms, response latencies were longer for paired sources than for single sources. With the possible exception of response latency, these findings demonstrate that the owl exhibits precedence phenomena in sound localization similar to those in humans and cats, and provide a basis for comparison with neurophysiological data.

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18 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 45024
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Articles free to read on journal website after 12 months
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00982.2005
ISSN: 0022-3077
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NEUROSCIENCES (110900)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY (111600)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > COGNITIVE SCIENCE (170200)
Deposited On: 24 Aug 2011 22:16
Last Modified: 18 May 2017 23:33

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