Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tropical frogs shedding light on human hearing and attention disorders

Date:
August 2, 2011
Source:
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Summary:
A new study by a professor of neuroscience and otorhinolaryngology reveals new information about the way tungara frogs in the tropical rain forest hear, sort, and process sounds which is very similar to the way humans do. The knowledge could be applicable to communication disorders associated with hearing loss and attention deficits or difficulties.

A study conducted by Hamilton Farris, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Otorhinolaryngology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, reveals new information about the way tungara frogs in the tropical rain forest hear, sort, and process sounds which is very similar to the way humans do. The knowledge could be applicable to communication disorders associated with hearing loss and attention deficits or difficulties.

Related Articles


Dr. Michael Ryan at the University of Texas, Austin, collaborated on the study, published online in Nature Communications on August 2, 2011.

"An important component of successful communication is being able to tell which sender among many is sending the signal," explains Dr. Farris. "In auditory neuroscience it's called the 'cocktail party problem.' A good example of a mistake in source assignment is when a ventriloquist performs."

To understand how the brain solves the cocktail party problem -- assigning sounds to their correct source in a noisy or multi-source environment -- the researchers chose to study the tungara frog because, unlike other subject species, it easily performs this complex behavior. The way it communicates is also a research asset. Male tungara frogs produce complex calls (not just repeated notes) consisting of two components that are speech-like: the vowel-like "whine" and the consonant-like "chuck."

For female tungara frogs, assigning the distinct components of male calls to the correct source is particularly challenging because males sing in aggregations, producing overlapping calls that lead to perceptual errors just like at a cocktail party. But, it's particularly important to the mate-searching female that she can accurately distinguish the male whose call she prefers from all of the others.

Using the labs at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Drs. Farris and Ryan investigated two types of cues/parameters of the call -- spatial separation and call syntax -- as potential cues for proper source assignment. Interestingly, they found that the frogs, like humans, use relative comparisons to form auditory groups that are assigned to the same source. This means that they take the available sounds and then group those that are most similar. And they are more likely to group the two components with the smallest relative differences in call parameters. This is a flexible strategy that humans use in some conditions as well.

"Thus, in noisy, complicated environments, the cognitive solution is not based on absolute stimulus rules, but one which compares all the sounds and then deduces their sources," concludes Dr. Farris. "Based on our research, we now have a better understanding of how the acoustic cues are used to solve the problem, an understanding that will guide research advances to solve communication problems associated with hearing deficits and disorders of attention."

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, as well as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hamilton E. Farris, Michael J. Ryan. Relative comparisons of call parameters enable auditory grouping in frogs. Nature Communications, 2011; 2: 410 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1417

Cite This Page:

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "Tropical frogs shedding light on human hearing and attention disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113312.htm>.
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. (2011, August 2). Tropical frogs shedding light on human hearing and attention disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113312.htm
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "Tropical frogs shedding light on human hearing and attention disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113312.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins