Detecting interaural time differences and remodeling their representation

Trends Neurosci. 2014 May;37(5):289-300. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.03.002. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Interaural time differences (ITDs) represent an important cue in sound localization and auditory scene analysis. To assess this cue the auditory system internally delays binaural inputs to compensate for the outer delay, before neurons in the brainstem detect the coincident arrival of the inputs from the two ears. Different origins of internal delays have been controversially discussed and have given rise to conflicting interpretations of the ITD representation ensuing from coincidence detection. Yet, recent findings indicate that ITD representations undergo substantial transformations or remodeling after the detection step. Here we treat the detection step separately from remodeling, and explain why a similar representation of ITD across species may exist in the forebrain despite differences in detection and representation in the midbrain.

Keywords: binaural hearing; coincidence detection; interaural time difference; neural code transformation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Time Factors