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Full Access Visual and auditory processing for target selection

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Visual and auditory processing for target selection

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The barn owl (Tyto alba) evolved precise visual and auditory systems to detect small prey in acoustically noisy and dimly lit conditions. Consequently, this species provides an excellent model system for studying visual–auditory integration for target selection. We study neural responses to visual and auditory stimuli in the optic tectum (OT), a mid-brain area where sensory information is integrated to guide the body responses to salient stimuli. I will focus my talk on neural adaptation, the decline of the neural response to repetitive stimulation. Adaptation in the OT is ubiquitous and robust. A single short stimulus can significantly reduce the neural responses to subsequent stimuli appearing up to 60 second later. The adaptation is specific to the stimulus, changing the subsequent stimulus (frequency, amplitude, location, etc.) regains the neural response. Thus, tectal neurons are sensitive to changes in the input stream, with a memory trace of up to a minute and possibly more. This sensitivity to novel events is enhanced when visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously from the same location. We propose, and provide evidence, that the multimodal adaptation in the OT reflects the neural computation that is required for behavioral habituation of the orientation reflex.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Physiology and Biophysics, the Technion, Haifa, Israel

The barn owl (Tyto alba) evolved precise visual and auditory systems to detect small prey in acoustically noisy and dimly lit conditions. Consequently, this species provides an excellent model system for studying visual–auditory integration for target selection. We study neural responses to visual and auditory stimuli in the optic tectum (OT), a mid-brain area where sensory information is integrated to guide the body responses to salient stimuli. I will focus my talk on neural adaptation, the decline of the neural response to repetitive stimulation. Adaptation in the OT is ubiquitous and robust. A single short stimulus can significantly reduce the neural responses to subsequent stimuli appearing up to 60 second later. The adaptation is specific to the stimulus, changing the subsequent stimulus (frequency, amplitude, location, etc.) regains the neural response. Thus, tectal neurons are sensitive to changes in the input stream, with a memory trace of up to a minute and possibly more. This sensitivity to novel events is enhanced when visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously from the same location. We propose, and provide evidence, that the multimodal adaptation in the OT reflects the neural computation that is required for behavioral habituation of the orientation reflex.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0008
2013-05-16
2016-12-06

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