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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2003;26:31-55.

Coding of auditory space.

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Division of Biology 216-76, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


Behavioral, anatomical, and physiological approaches can be integrated in the study of sound localization in barn owls. Space representation in owls provides a useful example for discussion of place and ensemble coding. Selectivity for space is broad and ambiguous in low-order neurons. Parallel pathways for binaural cues and for different frequency bands converge on high-order space-specific neurons, which encode space more precisely. An ensemble of broadly tuned place-coding neurons may converge on a single high-order neuron to create an improved labeled line. Thus, the two coding schemes are not alternate methods. Owls can localize sounds by using either the isomorphic map of auditory space in the midbrain or forebrain neural networks in which space is not mapped.

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