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Re: animal sound localization


  Barn owls have 2-3 times poorer spatial acuity in elevation than in azimuth (Bala, A. D. S, M.W. Spitzer,  T. T. Takahashi.  2007.  Auditory spatial acuity approximates the resolving power of space-specific neurons.  PLOS One, 2(8), e675)  Note that the Bala et al paper is free online at the PLOS website.


Are you interested in absolute localization (i.e., identifying the source location) or acuity (discriminating between two locations)?  You refer to both in your question.  Absolute localization and acuity are two different psychophysical measures of localization abilities, but they need not be correlated (e.g., sounds yielding good acuity may not be localized accurately).

See: Heffner H.E., Heffner R.S., Tollin D.J., Populin L.C., Moore J.M., Ruhland J.L., Yin T.C.T.  (2005) The sound-localization ability of cats. J Neurophysiol. 94: 3653-3655 http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/94/5/3653


Daniel J. Tollin, PhD

Assistant Professor


University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Department of Physiology and Biophysics/Mail Stop 8307

Research Complex 1-N, Rm 7120

12800 East 19th Ave

PO Box 6511

Aurora, CO 80045






From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Chris Clark
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 8:07 AM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: animal sound localization


owls are passive locators - so be sure you differentiate between these two mechanisms.

... and you are asking about scientific examples of such. FYI - There are observations of large whales doing things - like counter-calling over long distances and then joining up - that seem to have an explanation in this domain. Some of these have been scientifically validated by playback experiments, but these are not able to test vertical acuity. Whales also find food resources through either active or passive acoustic localization in 3-space.


At 04:38 PM 10/30/2007, D.W. Smith wrote:

Tyto alba, the barn owl.

-----Original Message-----
From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception
[ mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Brian Keith Branstetter
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 4:25 PM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: animal sound localization


Are there any examples of an animal (besides a dolphin) who can localize
sound sources in the vertical plane with the same (or similar or better)
acuity as the horizontal plane?

Are there any references to such a finding?

Thank you in advance.

Brian Branstetter
NRC postdoc
US Navy marine mammal program

Dr. Christopher W. Clark, I.P. Johnson Director
Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
Senior Scientist, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
Cornell University
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850