Colloquium Cognitive Systems

The neuronal code of auditory space

Prof. Dr. Benedikt Grothe (LMU München, MPI Neurobiology)


Abstract. Traditionally, the auditory system is thought to serve sound localization based on neuronal “labelled-lines” that create a stable neuronal representation of auditory space. Several lines of evidence evidence, however, 1) show that the neuronal coding principles in mammals deviate significantly form this textbook scenario, and 2) indicate that the neuronal representations as well as our percept of acoustic space is not static at all but highly dynamic. In fact, specific feedback systems in the early binaural pathway cause the subjectively perceived location of sounds to be strongly influenced by immediately preceding spectrally similar or overlapping stimuli, hence by the “acoustic context”. These findings support the notion that spatial hearing in mammals (in contrast to birds) serves relative separation rather than absolute localization of sounds.

Bio. Prof. Dr. Benedikt Grothe is Chair of Neurobiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and fellow of the Fellow of the Max Planck Society. He studied Biology and conducted a PhD in Munich at the LMU. Between 1991 and 1993 he did a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin with George D. Police and a postdoc at the New York University, Center for Neural Sciences with Dan. H. Sanes. 1994 He became Assistent Professor at the LMU and in 1999 research Group Leader at the MPI Neurobiology in Martinsried. Since 2003 he is Professor of Neurobiology at he  LMU.