Fig1Purkinjecell Fig2myelinatedaxons SJBfmri1


David McAlpine

UCL Ear Institute

Neural coding of complex sounds

Research in my laboratory is concerned with the means by which the central auditory nervous system encodes complex acoustic environments. Current investigations are focused on: (1) the representation of auditory spatial cues in the CNS, and how this representation is modified in the ascending auditory pathways; and (2) neural mechanisms responsible for the grouping together of sounds from a single sound source, and their segregation from sounds arising from other sound sources. This is achieved by a combination of in vivo recording of responses of single auditory neurones to complex sounds in real- and virtual-space environments, neuropharmacological techniques, and neural modelling.


1) The role of inhibition in neural coding of auditory spatial cues. This project will examine the influence of GABA-ergic inhibition on the processing of auditory spatial cues in the auditory midbrain nucleus of the inferior colliculus.

2) Neural correlates of auditory grouping. This project will investigate the means by which sounds from a single sound-source are grouped together to form a single sound image.

3) Representation of interaural time differences in the brainstem and midbrain. Localising sounds in space is fundamental to perception of the environment. This project will examine the neural representation of auditory cues for localisation, testing the specific hypothesis that localisation of sound sources is performed by a comparison of neural activity between different auditory channels


D. McAlpine, D. Jiang & A.R. Palmer (2001)
A neural code for low-frequency sound localization in mammals.
Nat. Neurosci. 4: 396-401.

D. McAlpine, D. Jiang, T.M. Shackleton & A.R. Palmer (1998)
Convergent input from brainstem coincidence detectors onto delay-sensitive neurones in the inferior colliculus.
J. Neurosci. 18, 6026-6039.

D. Jiang, D. McAlpine & A.R. Palmer (1997)
Detectability index measures of binaural masking level differences across populations of inferior colliculus neurones.
J. Neurosci. 17: 9331-9339.


Back to list of supervisors