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J Acoust Soc Am. 2019 Apr;145(4):2062. doi: 10.1121/1.5096532.

Effects of presentation rate and onset time on auditory brainstem responses in Northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus).

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Biology Department, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York 12604, USA.


Monitoring auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) is a common method of assessing auditory processing in non-model species. Although ABRs are widely used to compare auditory abilities across taxa, the extent to which different features of acoustic stimuli affect the ABR is largely unknown in most non-mammalian species. The authors investigated the effects of varying presentation rate and onset time to determine how different features of acoustic stimuli influence the ABR in Northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus), a species known for their unique auditory adaptations and hunting abilities. At presentation rates ranging from 21.1 to 51.1 s-1, there were no differences in the size or synchrony of ABRs, suggesting that stimuli can be presented at a relatively rapid rate to maximize the number of observations recorded for analysis. While increasing onset time was associated with a decrement in response size and synchrony, tonebursts with 1 ms onset times produced overgeneralized neural responses as a result of spectral splatter. This suggests that 2 to 3 ms onset times may balance the trade-off between response synchrony and frequency specificity when comparing relative neural recruitment across frequencies. These findings highlight the importance of considering stimulus parameters when interpreting ABR data.


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