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Gap detection in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

III. Processing in the peripheral auditory system

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Gap-detection thresholds were determined for single units in the cochlear ganglion and in auditory nerve fibres of the starling from responses to two broad-band noise bursts separated by a temporal gap of between 0.4 and 204.8 ms. All 35 units showed a threshold within the range of gap sizes tested. The median minimum-detectable gap was 12.8 ms with the minimum being 1.6 ms. A multiple regression analysis revealed that the size of the minimum-detectable gap was not significantly correlated with the neuron's CF, with its sharpness of tuning as given by its bandwidth 10 dB above threshold, or with its Q10dB value. Only the level of stimulation above the neuron's threshold showed a significant negative correlation with the size of the minimum-detectable gap. These results are discussed with respect to theoretical considerations of limits posed on temporal resolution by the characteristics of peripheral filters. These findings are also discussed in the context of the coding of gaps at different levels of the starling's auditory system and in relation to psychoacoustic results in the starling on gap detection and time resolution described by temporal modulation transfer functions.

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CF :

characteristic frequency;

TW :

time window

Q 10dB :

the unit's characteristic frequency divided by the bandwidth 10 dB above threshold


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Correspondence to Georg M. Klump.

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Klump, G.M., Gleich, O. Gap detection in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris). J Comp Physiol A 168, 469–476 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00199606

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Key words

  • Bird
  • Hearing
  • Auditory nerve
  • Temporal resolution
  • Gap detection