Rat auditory vs. olfactory localization

Susan F Volman svolman at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu
Fri Nov 6 19:47:14 EST 1992


In article <MARVIT.92Nov6105651 at cattell.psych.upenn.edu> marvit at cattell.psych.upenn.edu (Peter Marvit) writes:
>In article <2AF5CD17.23765 at ics.uci.edu> rmyers at ics.uci.edu (Richard E. Myers) writes:
>     I'm suspicious that perhaps rats naturally search for odors, but are
>   naturally disinclined to hunt for novel sounds.
>
>     Does anyone know of researchers currenly working on auditory
>   discrimination experiments that involve the animal localizing the
>   positive sound/tone in space? (as opposed to the stationary pushing of
>   levers)
>
>One basic problem you face is understanding what ecologically valid
>sounds might be for which rats would want to localize. A practical
>problem is that there is virtually no data (physiological or
>psychophysical) on rat audition or auditory system; that is, I know of
>none and neither do a handful of hearing scientists I know.  

I agree with Peter -- it might be hard to train a rat to approach a
sound.  There is, however, psychophysical data on the spatial hearing
of rats (Norway rats anyway), and also of many other species.  Look
for references by R. Heffner and H. Heffner.  I suspect that rats
mainly want to localize sounds in order to avoid predators, however
rodents do use sound to find their pups.  Could you use ferrets
instead?  Or some other carnivore?  Andy King at Oxford has been
studying free-field sound localization in ferrets (see this year's
Neuroscience abstracts).  I don't see why they couldn't be trained to
do discrimination tasks.  Bats have, of course, been successfully
trained on many auditory discrimination tasks in which they approach
the designated positive stimulus, but they wouldn't be the animal of
choice.

/Susan

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