Institute of Biology II
Department for Zoology and Animal Physiology
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Mechanisms of binaural detection

Interaural time difference (ITD) are detected in nucleus laminaris that receives its input from the cochlear nucleus magnocellularis. Binaural detection in the barn owl closely follows a model proposed early by Jeffress (Figure). The neurons in nucleus laminaris are narrowly tuned to frequency and function as coincidence detectors that vary their response as a function of ITD, while the axons of magnocellular neurons function as delay lines. This arrangement leads to a map of ITD that we currently investigating. The concerted action of these axons creates a huge extracellular potential, called neurophonic potential (Figure) that has a temporal precision of 10 ms (Figure).

Most recent Funding

BMBF Bernstein Centers BCOL 2007-2010



Original Publications

Kuokkanen PT, Ashida G, Carr CE, Wagner H, Kempter R (2013) Linear summation in the barn owl's brainstem underlies responses to interaural time differences. J Neurophysiol 110: 117-130.

Kuokkanen PT, Wagner H, Ashida G, Carr CE, Kempter R. (2010) On the Origin of the Extracellular Field Potential in the Nucleus Laminaris of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba). J Neurophysiol 104: 2274-2290.

Goerlich A, Illy M, Friauf E, Wagner H, Luksch H, Loehrke S (2010) Development of the delay lines in the nucleus laminaris of the chicken embryo revealed by optical imaging. Neuroscience 168: 564-572.

Kuenzel T, Sun Y, Wirth MJ, Wagner H, Mey J (2009) Increase of Kv3.1b- but not Kv1.1-expression in avian auditory brainstem neurons coincides with synaptogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Brain Res. 1302: 64-75.

Wagner H, Brill S, Kempter R, and Carr CE (2009) Auditory responses in the barn owl's nucleus laminaris to clicks: impulse response and signal analysis of neurophonic potential. J Neurophysiol 102: 1227-1240.

Wirth MJ, Kuenzel T, Luksch H, Wagner H (2008) Identification of auditory neurons by retrograde labelling for patch-clamp recordings in a mixed culture of chick brainstem. J Neurosci Methods 169: 55-64.

Kuenzel T, Moenig B, Wagner H, Mey J, Luksch H (2007) Neuronal differentiation of the early embryonic auditory hindbrain of the chicken in primary culture. Europ. J. Neurosci. 25: 974-984.

Wagner H, Brill S, Kempter R and Carr CE (2005) Microsecond precision of phase delay in the auditory system of the barn owl. J. Neurophysiol. 94: 1655-1658.

Leibold C, Kempter R, Wagner H and van Hemmen JL (2001) An interaural time difference map resulting from axonal selection through non-specific learning. Neurocomputing 38-40: 1401-1407.

Kempter R, Leibold C, Wagner H, van Hemmen JL (2001) Formation of temporal-feature maps by axonal propagation of synpatic learning. PNAS  98: 4166-4171.

Kempter R, Gerstner W, van Hemmen JL and Wagner H (1998) Extracting oscillations: neuronal coincidence detection with noisy periodic spike input. Neural Computation 10: 1987-2017.

Gerstner W, Kempter R, van Hemmen JL and Wagner H (1996) A neuronal learning rule for sub-millisecond temporal coding. Nature 383: 76-78.