Instructed learning in the auditory localization pathway of the barn owl

Nature. 2002 May 16;417(6886):322-8. doi: 10.1038/417322a.


A bird sings and you turn to look at it a process so automatic it seems simple. But is it? Our ability to localize the source of a sound relies on complex neural computations that translate auditory localization cues into representations of space. In barn owls, the visual system is important in teaching the auditory system how to translate cues. This example of instructed plasticity is highly quantifiable and demonstrates mechanisms and principles of learning that may be used widely throughout the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Strigiformes / physiology*


  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate