1. Neuroscience
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Transformation of temporal sequences in the zebra finch auditory system

  1. Yoonseob Lim
  2. Ryan Lagoy
  3. Barbara G Shinn-Cunningham
  4. Timothy J Gardner  Is a corresponding author
  1. Boston University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 8
  • Views 1,480
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e18205 doi: 10.7554/eLife.18205


This study examines how temporally patterned stimuli are transformed as they propagate from primary to secondary zones in the thalamo-recipient auditory pallium in zebra finches. Using a new class of synthetic click stimuli, we find a robust mapping from temporal sequences in the primary zone to distinct population vectors in secondary auditory areas. We tested whether songbirds could discriminate synthetic click sequences in an operant setup and found that a robust behavioral discrimination is present for click sequences composed of intervals ranging from 11-40ms, but breaks down for stimuli composed of longer inter-click intervals. This work suggests that the analog of the songbird auditory cortex transforms temporal patterns to sequence-selective population responses or 'spatial codes,' and that these distinct population responses contribute to behavioral discrimination of temporally complex sounds.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Yoonseob Lim

    Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  2. Ryan Lagoy

    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Barbara G Shinn-Cunningham

    Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    Barbara G Shinn-Cunningham, Reviewing editor, eLife.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5096-5914
  4. Timothy J Gardner

    Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1744-3970


National Science Foundation (NSF OMA-0835976)

  • Barbara G Shinn-Cunningham
  • Timothy J Gardner

National Institutes of Health (NIH R01NS089679)

  • Timothy J Gardner

National Research Council of Science and Technology grant by Korea Government (CRC-15-04-KIST)

  • Yoonseob Lim

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols (Protocol Number: 11-027) of the Boston University, operating under AALAC registration 000197, OLAW assurance A3316-01 and USDA 14-R-0017. All surgery was performed under isoflurane anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jennifer L Raymond, Stanford University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 26, 2016
  2. Accepted: November 22, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 29, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: December 16, 2016 (version 2)


© 2016, Lim et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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