Krumm, Bianca and Klump, Georg M. and Köppl, Christine and Langemann, Ulrike (2019) The Barn Owls’ Minimum Audible Angle. PLOS ONE, 14 (8). e0220652. ISSN 1932-6203

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Interaural time differences (ITD) and interaural level differences (ILD) are physical cues that enable the auditory system to pinpoint the position of a sound source in space. This ability is crucial for animal communication and predator-prey interactions. The barn owl has evolved an exceptional sense of hearing and shows abilities of sound localisation that outperform most other species. So far, behavioural studies in the barn owl often used reflexive responses to investigate aspects of sound localisation. Furthermore, they predominately probed the higher frequencies of the owl’s hearing range (> 3 kHz). In the present study we used a Go/NoGo paradigm to measure the barn owl’s behavioural sound localisation acuity (expressed as the Minimum Audible Angle, MAA) as a function of stimulus type (narrow-band noise centred at 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hz, and broad-band noise) and sound source position. We found significant effects of both stimulus type and sound source position on the barn owls’ MAA. The MAA improved with increasing stimulus frequency, from 14° at 500 Hz to 6° at 8000 Hz. The smallest MAA of 4° was found for broadband noise stimuli. Comparing different sound source positions revealed smaller MAAs for frontal compared to lateral stimulus presentation, irrespective of stimulus type. These results are consistent with both the known variations in physical ITDs and variation in the width of neural ITD tuning curves with azimuth and frequency. Physical and neural characteristics combine to result in better spatial acuity for frontal compared to lateral sounds and reduced localisation acuity at lower frequencies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publiziert mit Hilfe des DFG-geförderten Open Access-Publikationsfonds der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg.
Subjects: Science and mathematics > Life sciences, biology
Science and mathematics > Animals (zoology)
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Department of Neuro Sciences
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2020 09:22
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2020 11:59
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:715-oops-46151
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220652

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