Our laboratory's long-term goal is to understand how the auditory system allows us to listen selectively to the sound of interest amidst sources of interference. Using the auditory system of the barn owl (Tyto alba), with its topographic maps of space, we have been studying the effects of background noise and echoes on spatial resolution. Auditory events, however, generally unfold in time, and the auditory system must keep track of temporal changes in the features of sounds. In this project, we ask: How well does the auditory system encode time-varying signals in a cluttered environment? Behaviorally salient cues in the owl's environment, such as sounds of prey and many of its vocalizations (e.g, the threat call) consist of broadband signals with complex temporal structure. The neurons of the bran owl's inferior colliculus were recently found to adept at tracking the temporal structure of such complex waveforms in addition to being selective for the source's location. In this project, we examined how this temporal firing pattern is affected by noise. Parallel studies of behavior and neurophysiology are carried out in Aims 1 and 2, and in Aim 3, we combine the two methods in a novel attempt to record neuronal responses from the awake, behaving bird.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-8 (03))
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University of Oregon
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Nelson, Brian S; Donovan, Jeff M; Takahashi, Terry T (2015) A Neural Model of Auditory Space Compatible with Human Perception under Simulated Echoic Conditions. PLoS One 10:e0137900
Keller, Clifford H; Takahashi, Terry T (2015) Spike timing precision changes with spike rate adaptation in the owl's auditory space map. J Neurophysiol 114:2204-19
Baxter, Caitlin S; Nelson, Brian S; Takahashi, Terry T (2013) The role of envelope shape in the localization of multiple sound sources and echoes in the barn owl. J Neurophysiol 109:924-31
Donovan, Jeff M; Nelson, Brian S; Takahashi, Terry T (2012) The contributions of onset and offset echo delays to auditory spatial perception in human listeners. J Acoust Soc Am 132:3912-24
Takahashi, Terry T (2010) How the owl tracks its prey--II. J Exp Biol 213:3399-408
Nelson, Brian S; Takahashi, Terry T (2010) Spatial hearing in echoic environments: the role of the envelope in owls. Neuron 67:643-55
Nelson, Brian S; Takahashi, Terry T (2008) Independence of echo-threshold and echo-delay in the barn owl. PLoS One 3:e3598
Bala, Avinash D S; Spitzer, Matthew W; Takahashi, Terry T (2007) Auditory spatial acuity approximates the resolving power of space-specific neurons. PLoS One 2:e675
Spitzer, Matthew W; Takahashi, Terry T (2006) Sound localization by barn owls in a simulated echoic environment. J Neurophysiol 95:3571-84
Whitchurch, Elizabeth A; Takahashi, Terry T (2006) Combined auditory and visual stimuli facilitate head saccades in the barn owl (Tyto alba). J Neurophysiol 96:730-45

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