How nerve cells flexibly adapt to acoustic signals
Nerve cells flexibly adapt to acoustic signals, research has shown. Depending on the input signal, neurons generate action potentials either near or far away from the cell body. Nerve cells ensure that the various kinds of input signals are optimally processed — and thus allow us to perceive both small and large acoustic arrival time differences well, and thereby localize sounds in space.
How nerve cells flexibly adapt to acoustic signals: Depending on the input signal, neurons generate action potentials either near or far away from the cell body. This flexibility improves our ability to localize sound sources.In order to process acoustic information with high temporal fidelity, nerve cells may flexibly adapt their mode of operation according to the situation. At low input frequencies, they generate most outgoing action potentials close to the cell body. Following inhibitory or high frequency excitatory signals, the cells produce many action potentials more distantly. This way, they are highly sensitive to the different types of input signals. These findings have been obtained by a research team headed by Professor Christian Leibold, Professor Benedikt Grothe, and Dr. Felix Felmy from the LMU Munich and the Bernstein Center and the Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology in Munich, who used computer models in their study. The researchers report their results in the latest issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.Did the bang come from ahead or from the right? In order to localize sound sources, nerve cells in the brain stem evaluate the different arrival times of acoustic signals at the two ears. Being able to detect temporal discrepancies of up to 10 millionths of a second, the neurons have to become excited very quickly. …
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