Auditory responses in the barn owl's nucleus laminaris to clicks: impulse response and signal analysis of neurophonic potential

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Aug;102(2):1227-40. doi: 10.1152/jn.00092.2009. Epub 2009 Jun 17.


We used acoustic clicks to study the impulse response of the neurophonic potential in the barn owl's nucleus laminaris. Clicks evoked a complex oscillatory neural response with a component that reflected the best frequency measured with tonal stimuli. The envelope of this component was obtained from the analytic signal created using the Hilbert transform. The time courses of the envelope and carrier waveforms were characterized by fitting them with filters. The envelope was better fitted with a Gaussian than with the envelope of a gamma-tone function. The carrier was better fitted with a frequency glide than with a constant instantaneous frequency. The change of the instantaneous frequency with time was better fitted with a linear fit than with a saturating nonlinearity. Frequency glides had not been observed in the bird's auditory system before. The glides were similar to those observed in the mammalian auditory nerve. Response amplitude, group delay, frequency, and phase depended in a systematic way on click level. In most cases, response amplitude decreased linearly as stimulus level decreased, while group delay, phase, and frequency increased linearly as level decreased. Thus the impulse response of the neurophonic potential in the nucleus laminaris of barn owls reflects many characteristics also observed in responses of the basilar membrane and auditory nerve in mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Neurological
  • Normal Distribution
  • Strigiformes / physiology*
  • Time Factors