Behavioral sensitivity to interaural time differences in the rabbit

Hear Res. 2008 Jan;235(1-2):134-42. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2007.11.003. Epub 2007 Nov 23.


An important cue for sound localization and separation of signals from noise is the interaural time difference (ITD). Humans are able to localize sounds within 1-2 degrees and can detect very small changes in the ITD (10-20micros). In contrast, many animals localize sounds with less precision than humans. Rabbits, for example, have sound localization thresholds of approximately 22 degrees . There is only limited information about behavioral ITD discrimination in animals with poor sound localization acuity that are typically used for the neural recordings. For this study, we measured behavioral discrimination of ITDs in the rabbit for a range of reference ITDs from 0 to +/-300micros. The behavioral task was conditioned avoidance and the stimulus was band-limited noise (500-1500Hz). Across animals, the average discrimination threshold was 50-60micros for reference ITDs of 0 to +/-200micros. There was no trend in the thresholds across this range of reference ITDs. For a reference ITD of +/-300micros, which is near the limit of the physiological window defined by the head width in this species, the discrimination threshold increased to approximately 100micros. The ITD discrimination in rabbits less acute than in cats, which have a similar head size. This result supports the suggestion that ITD discrimination, like sound localization [see Heffner, 1997. Acta Otolaryngol. 532 (Suppl.), 46-53] is determined by factors other than head size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / cytology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Cephalometry
  • Cues*
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Rabbits
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Time Factors