Healthy auditory systems perform well in quiet places where there are no overlapping sounds, but are greatly challenged in noisy environments. In these environments, all of the sounds in the "acoustic scene" combine to create a single waveform that impinges on the receiver's ear, from which the auditory system must extract some meaningful signal. A particular example of this auditory scene analysis occurs in multi-talker environments, where the acoustic scene consists of the overlapping sounds of competing signalers. The problem of communicating in multi-talker environments has been well-studied in the human hearing literature, where it is known as the cocktail party problem, but it is not unique to humans. Many non-human animals also encounter noisy social environments and have evolved to solve cocktail-party-like problems of vocal communication. However, the mechanisms that humans and other animals use to solve the problem may differ. While human and other vertebrate auditory systems share ancestral traits from their most recent common ancestor, there is evidence for divergence of auditory systems between the separate tetrapod lineages. The independent evolution of auditory systems suggests that vertebrates may have evolved ta diversity of novel solutions to cocktail-party-like problems. Traditionally, research into similar problems in other non-human animals has been limited. The aim of my dissertation research was to investigate mechanisms that enable a non-mammalian vertebrate, specifically a frog, to navigate noisy, multi-signaler environments.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2014. Major: Neuroscience. Advisor: Mark A. Bee. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 178 pages, appendices 1-2.
Schrode, Katrina Marie.
Neural mechanisms of auditory scene analysis in a non-mammalian animal model.
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