(1/201) Early visual experience shapes the representation of auditory space in the forebrain gaze fields of the barn owl.

Auditory spatial information is processed in parallel forebrain and midbrain pathways. Sensory experience early in life has been shown to exert a powerful influence on the representation of auditory space in the midbrain space-processing pathway. The goal of this study was to determine whether early experience also shapes the representation of auditory space in the forebrain. Owls were raised wearing prismatic spectacles that shifted the visual field in the horizontal plane. This manipulation altered the relationship between interaural time differences (ITDs), the principal cue used for azimuthal localization, and locations of auditory stimuli in the visual field. Extracellular recordings were used to characterize ITD tuning in the auditory archistriatum (AAr), a subdivision of the forebrain gaze fields, in normal and prism-reared owls. Prism rearing altered the representation of ITD in the AAr. In prism-reared owls, unit tuning for ITD was shifted in the adaptive direction, according to the direction of the optical displacement imposed by the spectacles. Changes in ITD tuning involved the acquisition of unit responses to adaptive ITD values and, to a lesser extent, the elimination of responses to nonadaptive (previously normal) ITD values. Shifts in ITD tuning in the AAr were similar to shifts in ITD tuning observed in the optic tectum of the same owls. This experience-based adjustment of binaural tuning in the AAr helps to maintain mutual registry between the forebrain and midbrain representations of auditory space and may help to ensure consistent behavioral responses to auditory stimuli.  (+info)

(2/201) Functional selection of adaptive auditory space map by GABAA-mediated inhibition.

The external nucleus of the inferior colliculus in the barn owl contains an auditory map of space that is based on the tuning of neurons for interaural differences in the timing of sound. In juvenile owls, this region of the brain can acquire alternative maps of interaural time difference as a result of abnormal experience. It has been found that, in an external nucleus that is expressing a learned, abnormal map, the circuitry underlying the normal map still exists but is functionally inactivated by inhibition mediated by gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. This inactivation results from disproportionately strong inhibition of specific input channels to the network. Thus, experience-driven changes in patterns of inhibition, as well as adjustments in patterns of excitation, can contribute critically to adaptive plasticity in the central nervous system.  (+info)

(3/201) Low glucokinase activity and high rates of gluconeogenesis contribute to hyperglycemia in barn owls (Tyto alba) after a glucose challenge.

Barn owls (Tyto alba) and leghorn chickens were fed a low protein high glucose (33.44% protein, 23.67% glucose) or a high protein low glucose (55.35% protein, 1.5% glucose) diet. After an intravenous glucose infusion, the peak in plasma glucose was not affected by diet in either species and was 22.6 and 39.4 mmol/L in chickens and barn owls, respectively. Glucose levels returned to normal within 30 min in chickens, but remained elevated for 3.5 h in barn owls. An oral glucose challenge also resulted in greater and longer hyperglycemia in barn owls than in chickens. The activities of hepatic glucokinase, malic enzyme and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase of barn owls were 16, 35, and 333% of the levels in chickens. Malic enzyme (P = 0.024) was less affected by dietary glucose level in barn owls than in chickens. Cultured hepatocytes from chickens produced 43% more glucose from lactate than hepatocytes from barn owls and, conversely, barn owl hepatocytes produced 87% more glucose from threonine than chickens (P = 0.001). Gluconeogenesis from lactate was greatly suppressed by high media glucose in chicken hepatocytes but not in those of barn owls (P = 0.0001 for species by glucose level interaction). When threonine was the substrate, gluconeogenesis was suppressed by increased glucose in both species but to a greater relative extent in chickens (P = 0.007 for species by glucose level interaction). Owls were glucose intolerant at least in part because of low hepatic glucokinase activity and an inadequate suppression of gluconeogenesis in the presence of exogenous glucose, apparently because they evolved with large excesses of amino acids and limited glucose in their normal diet.  (+info)

(4/201) Coding of sound pressure level in the barn owl's auditory nerve.

Rate-intensity functions, i.e., the relation between discharge rate and sound pressure level, were recorded from single auditory nerve fibers in the barn owl. Differences in sound pressure level between the owl's two ears are known to be an important cue in sound localization. One objective was therefore to quantify the discharge rates of auditory nerve fibers, as a basis for higher-order processing of sound pressure level. The second aim was to investigate the rate-intensity functions for cues to the underlying cochlear mechanisms, using a model developed in mammals. Rate-intensity functions at the most sensitive frequency mostly showed a well-defined breakpoint between an initial steep segment and a progressively flattening segment. This shape has, in mammals, been convincingly traced to a compressive nonlinearity in the cochlear mechanics, which in turn is a reflection of the cochlear amplifier enhancing low-level stimuli. The similarity of the rate-intensity functions of the barn owl is thus further evidence for a similar mechanism in birds. An interesting difference from mammalian data was that this compressive nonlinearity was not shared among fibers of similar characteristic frequency, suggesting a different mechanism with a more locally differentiated operation than in mammals. In all fibers, the steepest change in discharge rate with rising sound pressure level occurred within 10-20 dB of their respective thresholds. Because the range of neural thresholds at any one characteristic frequency is small in the owl, auditory nerve fibers were collectively most sensitive for changes in sound pressure level within approximately 30 dB of the best thresholds. Fibers most sensitive to high frequencies (>6-7 kHz) showed a smaller increase of rate above spontaneous discharge rate than did lower-frequency fibers.  (+info)

(5/201) Hearing impairment induces frequency-specific adjustments in auditory spatial tuning in the optic tectum of young owls.

Bimodal, auditory-visual neurons in the optic tectum of the barn owl are sharply tuned for sound source location. The auditory receptive fields (RFs) of these neurons are restricted in space primarily as a consequence of their tuning for interaural time differences and interaural level differences across broad ranges of frequencies. In this study, we examined the extent to which frequency-specific features of early auditory experience shape the auditory spatial tuning of these neurons. We manipulated auditory experience by implanting in one ear canal an acoustic filtering device that altered the timing and level of sound reaching the eardrum in a frequency-dependent fashion. We assessed the auditory spatial tuning at individual tectal sites in normal owls and in owls raised with the filtering device. At each site, we measured a family of auditory RFs using broadband sound and narrowband sounds with different center frequencies both with and without the device in place. In normal owls, the narrowband RFs for a given site all included a common region of space that corresponded with the broadband RF and aligned with the site's visual RF. Acute insertion of the filtering device in normal owls shifted the locations of the narrowband RFs away from the visual RF, the magnitude and direction of the shifts depending on the frequency of the stimulus. In contrast, in owls that were raised wearing the device, narrowband and broadband RFs were aligned with visual RFs so long as the device was in the ear but not after it was removed, indicating that auditory spatial tuning had been adaptively altered by experience with the device. The frequency tuning of tectal neurons in device-reared owls was also altered from normal. The results demonstrate that experience during development adaptively modifies the representation of auditory space in the barn owl's optic tectum in a frequency-dependent manner.  (+info)

(6/201) Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the F gene of Newcastle disease viruses isolated from chickens and an owl in Taiwan.

To provide information on the epidemiology of Newcastle disease (ND) of poultry in Taiwan, ND virus isolates from chickens and an owl were investigated by restriction site analysis and sequencing of their gene. A 1,349 base fragment of the F (fusion protein) gene was amplified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The PCR products were analyzed using restriction endonucleases, HinfI, BstOI, and RsaI. Three strains isolated from chickens during the 1995 epidemic outbreak had the same restriction sites as that of a 1994 isolate; the number of the restriction sites of HinfI, BstOI, and RsaI were 4, 2, and 4, respectively. In the F gene of the strain isolated from an owl during the same outbreak an additional restriction site of HinfI was found. The 1991 isolate had only 3 restriction sites. The F gene of the owl isolate was amplified by RT-PCR and followed by direct sequencing. The deduced amino acid sequence at the cleavage site of the F protein was of virulent strains, 112R-R-Q-K-R-F117. The F gene of Ow/Tw/2209/95 was phylogenetically most closely related to that of Ck/Tw/2137/95 isolated from the same outbreak. The present results indicate that the causative virus of the 1995 ND outbreak had already been present in Taiwan.  (+info)

(7/201) Abnormal auditory experience induces frequency-specific adjustments in unit tuning for binaural localization cues in the optic tectum of juvenile owls.

Early auditory experience shapes the auditory spatial tuning of neurons in the barn owl's optic tectum in a frequency-dependent manner. We examined the basis for this adaptive plasticity in terms of changes in tuning for frequency-specific interaural time differences (ITDs) and level differences (ILDs), the dominant sound localization cues. We characterized broadband and narrowband ITD and ILD tuning in normal owls and in owls raised with an acoustic filtering device in one ear that caused frequency-dependent changes in sound timing and level. In normal owls, units were tuned to frequency-specific ITD and ILD values that matched those produced by sound sources located in their visual receptive fields. In contrast, in device-reared owls, ITD tuning at most sites was shifted from normal by approximately 55 microsec toward open-ear leading for 4 kHz stimuli and 15 microsec toward the opposite-ear leading for 8 kHz stimuli, reflecting the acoustic effects of the device. ILD tuning was shifted in the adaptive direction by approximately 3 dB for 4 kHz stimuli and 8 dB for 8 kHz stimuli, but these shifts were substantially smaller than expected based on the acoustic effects of the device. Most sites also exhibited conspicuously abnormal frequency-response functions, including a strong dependence on stimulus ITD and a reduction of normally robust responses to 6 kHz stimuli. The results demonstrate that the response properties of high-order auditory neurons in the optic tectum are adjusted during development to reflect the influence of frequency-specific features of the binaural localization cues experienced by the individual.  (+info)

(8/201) Barn owl (Tyto alba) siblings vocally negotiate resources.

Current theory proposes that nestlings beg to signal hunger level to parents honestly, or that siblings compete by escalating begging to attract the attention of parents. Although begging is assumed to be directed at parents, barn owl (Tyto alba) nestlings vocalize in the presence but also in the absence of the parents. Applying the theory of asymmetrical contests we experimentally tested three predictions of the novel hypothesis that in the absence of the parents siblings vocally settle contests over prey items to be delivered next by a parent. This 'sibling negotiation hypothesis' proposes that offspring use each others' begging vocalization as a source of information about their relative willingness to contest the next prey item delivered. In line with the hypothesis we found that (i) a nestling barn owl refrains from vocalization when a rival is more hungry, but (ii) escalates once the rival has been fed by a parent, and (iii) nestlings refrain from and escalate vocalization in experimentally enlarged and reduced broods, respectively. Thus, when parents are not at the nest a nestling vocally refrains when the value of the next delivered prey item will be higher for its nest-mates. These findings are the exact opposite of what current models predict for begging calls produced in the presence of the parents.  (+info)