A critical job of the auditory system is to localize sounds, which depends upon spectral cues provided by the filtering of the pinna for vertical and interaural time (ITDs) and level disparities (ILDs) for horizontal localization. We found anatomical and physiological specializations in the circuits that encode these cues. Cells in the medial superior olive (MSO) function as high resolution coincidence detectors or cross-correlators and their inputs have enhanced temporal synchronization compared to auditory nerve fibers. We have also been studying the psychophysics of sound localization in the cat by training them to look at sounds. Cats demonstrate high accuracy and precision when localizing with their head unrestrained. Their mobile ears have a reflex in response to head movement that keeps the ears pointed toward the sound source despite head movements.
Tom Yin is a Visiting Professor of Neural Science at NYU Shanghai. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a PhD from the University of Michigan and a BSE from Princeton University, both in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Professor Yin’s research interests are the neurophysiological and psychophysical basis for binaural hearing. He has published extensively in the Journal of Neurophysiology, Journal of Neuroscience and Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
Professor Yin was awarded the inaugural Harman Prize in Auditory Neuroscience from the Acoustical Society of America, is a member of the Dana Alliance and was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also served as the founding chair of the Department of Neuroscience and was Director of the Neuroscience Training Program, which is the cross-campus graduate program at UW-Madison.