Owls excel as nighttime predators thanks to sound localization—their ability to target prey by calculating the distance and direction of the sounds they make. Over the past several decades, research has revealed specialized auditory system pathways in the brains of owls that enable them to hunt so successfully.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Jose Pena, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues a one-year, $2.9 million grant to study the owl’s midbrain sound localization system. Their goal is to discover the cellular and synaptic mechanisms and neural network architecture that determine owl behavior and that are capable of changing to allow for adaptive learning. Research by the multidisciplinary team will include novel brain-recording techniques on anesthetized and non-anesthetized animals, electron microscopy behavioral tests, and theoretical neural models. The project could significantly expand the scientific understanding of common principles of information processing and learning that operate across different species including humans.
Dr. Pena is professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein. (1RF1NS132812-01)
Posted on: Tuesday, November 07, 2023