While trying to understand such a complex structure like the human brain, we are often required to take a creative approach. For instance, what could a human and a dinosaur possibly have in common? Actually, they hear and process sounds similarly. Observing how birds and crocodilians, the ancestors of dinosaurs, rely on their sense of hearing can teach us about our own perception of sound.
There are massive similarities across all brains that evolved in the past millennia and, in this case, understanding the sensory inputs to the brain and how these cues are processed by neural networks can enable better treatment for human hearing loss. Potentially, this knowledge can, for instance, be utilized to improve hearing aids’ technology such that it works flawlessly even in noisy, crowded places.
About Lutz Kettler
Lutz Kettler is a postdoc at the Chair of Zoology at the Technical University of Munich, where he studies the brain’s sensory systems by researching how different species perceive sound. Specifically, Lutz studies the neural processing of Interaural Time Difference (ITD), which is the lag in time between the arrival of a sound at both ears. Because of the time delay, we are able to locate sound sources with a resolution of less than 5 degrees in space - this is what allows a predator to hunt, or a human to understand a specific voice in a noisy crowd.