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Hear Res. 2011 Feb;272(1-2):135-47. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2010.10.007. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Sound pressure transformations by the head and pinnae of the adult Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera).

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Colorado Medical School, Aurora, CO, USA.


There are three main cues to sound location: the interaural differences in time (ITD) and level (ILD) as well as the monaural spectral shape cues. These cues are generated by the spatial- and frequency-dependent filtering of propagating sound waves by the head and external ears. Although the chinchilla has been used for decades to study the anatomy, physiology, and psychophysics of audition, including binaural and spatial hearing, little is actually known about the sound pressure transformations by the head and pinnae and the resulting sound localization cues available to them. Here, we measured the directional transfer functions (DTFs), the directional components of the head-related transfer functions, for 9 adult chinchillas. The resulting localization cues were computed from the DTFs. In the frontal hemisphere, spectral notch cues were present for frequencies from ∼6-18 kHz. In general, the frequency corresponding to the notch increased with increases in source elevation as well as in azimuth towards the ipsilateral ear. The ILDs demonstrated a strong correlation with source azimuth and frequency. The maximum ILDs were <10 dB for frequencies <5 kHz, and ranged from 10-30 dB for the frequencies >5 kHz. The maximum ITDs were dependent on frequency, yielding 236 μs at 4 kHz and 336 μs at 250 Hz. Removal of the pinnae eliminated the spectral notch cues, reduced the acoustic gain and the ILDs, altered the acoustic axis, and reduced the ITDs.

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