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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2007 Jan;193(1):99-112. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Sensitivity to interaural time difference and representation of azimuth in central nucleus of inferior colliculus in the barn owl.

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Institute of Biology II, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany.


Standard electrophysiology and virtual auditory stimuli were used to investigate the influence of interaural time difference on the azimuthal tuning of neurons in the core and the lateral shell of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus of the barn owl. The responses of the neurons to virtual azimuthal stimuli depended in a periodic way on azimuth. Fixation of the interaural time difference, while leaving all other spatial cues unchanged, caused a loss of periodicity and a broadening of azimuthal tuning. This effect was studied in more detail in neurons of the core. The azimuthal range tested and the frequency selectivity of the neurons were additional parameters influencing the changes induced by fixating the interaural time difference. The addition of an interaural time difference to the virtual stimuli resulted in a shift of the tuning curves that correlated with the interaural time difference added. In this condition, tuning strength did not change. These results suggest that interaural time difference is an important determinant of azimuthal tuning in all neurons of the core and lateral shell of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus, and is the only determinant in many of the neurons from the core.

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