Sunday, December 1, 2013

Where Did The Sound Originate?

Can you tell where a sound is coming from? Identifying where a sound originated from isn't always an easy task, and it may become even more difficult as people age or develop hearing problems. New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that a small group of neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC) are key to performing this task. The higher-level areas of the brain that actually determine what direction a sound comes from can't actually use the sound to solve the problem. Instead, these areas have to rely on how the sound was represented in electrical activity in lower-level auditory areas of the brain. In this work, the researchers recorded neural activity from the inferior colliculus in animals as they listened to sounds coming from various directions. The researchers found that they could figure out what direction the sound was coming from based on the pattern of activity from a collection of less than a hundred IC neurons.

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