Early auditory experience aligns the auditory map of space in the optic tectum of the barn owl

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Science  25 Nov 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4626, pp. 939-942
DOI: 10.1126/science.6635667


Auditory and visual space are mapped in the optic tectum of the barn owl. Normally, these maps of space are in close mutual alignment. Ear plugs inserted unilaterally in young barn owls disrupted the binaural cues that constitute the basis of the auditory map. Yet when recordings were made from the tecta of these birds as adults, the auditory and visual maps were in register. When the ear plugs were removed from these adult birds and binaural balance was restored, the auditory maps were shifted substantially relative to the visual maps and relative to the physical borders of the tecta. These results demonstrate that the neural connectivity that gives rise to the auditory map of space in the optic tectum can be modified by experience in such a way that spatial alignment between sensory modalities is maintained.

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