Coding of sound location and frequency in the auditory midbrain of diurnal birds of prey, families Accipitridae and Falconidae
The coding of sound frequency and location in the avian auditory midbrain nucleus (nMLD) was examined in three diurnal raptors: the brown falcon (Falco berigora), the swamp harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and the brown goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus). Previously this nucleus has been studied with free field stimuli in only one other species, the barn owl (Tyto alba). We found some parallels between the organisation of nMLD in the diurnal raptors and that reported in the barn owl in that the central region of nMLD was tonotopically organised and contained cells that did not encode location, and the lateral region (nMLDl) contained cells which were sensitive to stimulus position. However, unlike the barn owl, which has units with circumscribed receptive fields, cells sensitive to stimulus location had large receptive fields which were restricted in azimuth but not in elevation (hemifield units). Such cells could not provide an acoustic space map in which both azimuthal and elevational dimensions were represented, but there was a tendency for units with contralateral borders to be found superficially, and those with ipsilateral borders to be found deep, in nMLDl. Hemifield units displayed receptive field properties consistent with the directional properties of the tympana in the presence of sound transmission through the interaural canal, if there is a central mechanism which is sensitive to interaural intensity differences.