Cue reliability represented in the shape of tuning curves in the owl’s sound localization system

Fanny Cazettes, Brian J. Fischer, Jose L. Pena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Optimal use of sensory information requires that the brain estimates the reliability of sensory cues, but the neural correlate of cue reliability relevant for behavior is not well defined. Here, we addressed this issue by examining how the reliability of spatial cue influences neuronal responses and behavior in the owl’s auditory system. We show that the firing rate and spatial selectivity changed with cue reliability due to the mechanisms generating the tuning to the sound localization cue. We found that the correlated variability among neurons strongly depended on the shape of the tuning curves. Finally, we demonstrated that the change in the neurons’ selectivity was necessary and sufficient for a network of stochastic neurons to predict behavior when sensory cues were corrupted with noise. This study demonstrates that the shape of tuning curves can stand alone as a coding dimension of environmental statistics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2101-2110
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2016



  • Barn owl
  • Bayesian
  • Neural coding
  • Population vector
  • Reliability
  • Sound localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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