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.

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 April 17, 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 April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) — The Buenos Aires Zoo debuted a trio of rare white Bengal tiger cubs on Wednesday. (April 16) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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