A Developmental Learning Rule for Coincidence Tuning in the Barn Owl Auditory System

  • Wulfram Gerstner
  • Richard Kempter
  • J. Leo van Hemmen
  • Hermann Wagner


Binaural coincidence detection is essential for the localization of external sounds and requires auditory signal processing with high temporal precision. We present an integrateand-fire model of spike processing in the third order nucleus laminaris of the auditory pathway of the barn owl. Each input spike generates an excitatory postsynaptic potential with a width of 250 μs. Output spikes occur with a tenfold enhanced temporal precision. This is possible since neuronal connections are fine tuned during a critical period of development as has been suggested by recent experiments. This rule does not only explain the temporal presicion in the output, but causes also a tuning to interaural time difference. The learning rule is of the Hebbian type: A synaptic weight is increased if a presynaptic spike arrives at about the same time as or slightly before postsynaptic firing. A presynaptic spike arriving after postsynaptic firing leads to a decrease of the synaptic efficacy.


Interaural Time Difference Hebbian Learning Vector Strength Temporal Precision Output Spike 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wulfram Gerstner
    • 1
  • Richard Kempter
    • 1
  • J. Leo van Hemmen
    • 1
  • Hermann Wagner
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Theoretische Physik, Physik-DepartmentTU MünchenGarching bei MünchenGermany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für Zoologie/TierphysiologieInstitut für Biologie II, RWTH AachenAachenGermany

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