Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 196, Issue 7, pp 463–470 | Cite as

Localization dominance and the effect of frequency in the Mongolian Gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus

Original Paper


Due to its good low-frequency hearing, the Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) has become a well-established animal model for human hearing. In humans, sound localization in reverberant environments is facilitated by the precedence effect, i.e., the perceptual suppression of spatial information carried by echoes. The current study addresses the question whether gerbils are a valid animal model for such complex spatial processing. Specifically, we quantify localization dominance, i.e., the fact that in the context of precedence, only the directional information of the sound which reaches the ear first dominates the perceived position of a sound source whereas directional information of the delayed echoes is suppressed. As localization dominance is known to be stimulus-dependent, we quantified the extent to which the spectral content of transient sounds affects localization dominance in the gerbil. The results reveal that gerbils show stable localization dominance across echo delays, well comparable to humans. Moreover, localization dominance systematically decreased with increasing center frequency, which has not been demonstrated in an animal before. These findings are consistent with an important contribution of peripheral-auditory processing to perceptual localization dominance. The data show that the gerbil is an excellent model to study the neural basis of complex spatial-auditory processing.


Spatial hearing Gerbil Precedence effect Localization dominance Echo 



Precedence effect


Two alternative forced choice



The authors would like to thank Michael Pecka, Nick Lesica, Benedikt Grothe and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Wolf
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maike Schuchmann
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lutz Wiegrebe
    • 3
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for PsychiatryMunichGermany
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for OrnithologySeewiesenGermany
  3. 3.Department Biologie II, BiocentreUniversity MunichMartinsriedGermany

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