The acoustical cues to sound location in the rat: measurements of directional transfer functions

J Acoust Soc Am. 2008 Jun;123(6):4297-309. doi: 10.1121/1.2916587.


The acoustical cues for sound location are generated by spatial- and frequency-dependent filtering of propagating sound waves by the head and external ears. Although rats have been a common model system for anatomy, physiology, and psychophysics of localization, there have been few studies of the acoustical cues available to rats. Here, directional transfer functions (DTFs), the directional components of the head-related transfer functions, were measured in six adult rats. The cues to location were computed from the DTFs. In the frontal hemisphere, spectral notches were present for frequencies from approximately 16 to 30 kHz; in general, the frequency corresponding to the notch increased with increases in source elevation and in azimuth toward the ipsilateral ear. The maximum high-frequency envelope-based interaural time differences (ITDs) were 130 mus, whereas low-frequency (<3.5 kHz) fine-structure ITDs were 160 mus; both types of ITDs were larger than predicted from spherical head models. Interaural level differences (ILDs) strongly depended on location and frequency. Maximum ILDs were <10 dB for frequencies <8 kHz and were as large as 20-40 dB for frequencies >20 kHz. Removal of the pinna eliminated the spectral notches, reduced the acoustic gain and ILDs, altered the acoustical axis, and reduced the ITDs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Cues*
  • Firearms
  • Glass
  • Noise
  • Photography
  • Rats
  • Sound Localization*
  • Speech