Multidimensional stimulus encoding in the auditory nerve of the barn owl

Brian J. Fischer, Jacob L. Wydick, Christine Köppl, José L. Peña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Auditory perception depends on multi-dimensional information in acoustic signals that must be encoded by auditory nerve fibers (ANF). These dimensions are represented by filters with different frequency selectivities. Multiple models have been suggested; however, the identification of relevant filters and type of interactions has been elusive, limiting progress in modeling the cochlear output. Spike-triggered covariance analysis of barn owl ANF responses was used to determine the number of relevant stimulus filters and estimate the nonlinearity that produces responses from filter outputs. This confirmed that ANF responses depend on multiple filters. The first, most dominant filter was the spike-triggered average, which was excitatory for all neurons. The second and third filters could be either suppressive or excitatory with center frequencies above or below that of the first filter. The nonlinear function mapping the first two filter outputs to the spiking probability ranged from restricted to nearly circular-symmetric, reflecting different modes of interaction between stimulus dimensions across the sample. This shows that stimulus encoding in ANFs of the barn owl is multidimensional and exhibits diversity over the population, suggesting that models must allow for variable numbers of filters and types of interactions between filters to describe how sound is encoded in ANFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2116-2127
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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