Tom Yin

Professor and Interim Chair
Ph.D., 1973, University of Michigan

Contact Information
Email: tcyin@wisc.edu
(608) 262-0368 Phone
(608) 265-5512 Fax

Research Interests
Neural mechanisms of sound localization

Visit the Yin Lab

Tom Yin

The ability to localize the source of a sound is an important function of the auditory system. It may be essential for both prey and predator to quickly and accurately identify the location of a sound source. Consequently, the mechanisms underlying sound localization have been of much interest to psychophysicists, anatomists and physiologists studying the auditory system.

Our lab has been studying the physiological and anatomical mechanisms by which sound localization cues are encoded in the central auditory system. It is probably safe to say that we understand more about the central processing of sound localization cues than that of any other auditory attribute (e.g. pitch or loudness).

Presently, the laboratory has two major directions of research; one aims to understand the neural circuitry for encoding the acoustic cues used in localization and the other uses behavioral methods to study localization in awake, behaving animals.

To study the anatomical and physiological circuits that are important, we record from single cells in various auditory nuclei in the brainstem of anesthetized animals while delivering simple or complex acoustic stimuli that contain various localization cues.

FigureWe have studied the two circuits that are thought to be involved in encoding the two major binaural cues: interaural time disparities and interaural level differences. In some experiments we record intracellularly and inject the neuron after characterizing it physiologically to allow us to study its anatomical features. For example, the largest synapse in the nervous system can be found in the circuit leading to the lateral superior olive.

To link the physiology with behavior, we train cats to look at sound sources and then record from them while they are actively engaged in the task. The eye movements of the cat are monitored while it works in an operant conditioning paradigm. This allows us to study the natural response of cells without the confounding anesthesia as well as the psychophysical abilities of the cat.

We have studied the interaction of visual and auditory stimuli in the superior colliculus as well as responses of cells in the inferior colliculus to stimuli that mimic the precedence effect, a well-known psychophysical illusion that allows us to localize sounds in a reverberant acoustic environment.

Selected Publications

  • Karino, S., Smith, P.H., Yin, T.C. and Joris. P.X. (2011) Axonal branching patterns as sources of delay in the mammalian auditory brainstem: a re-examination. J. Neurosci. 31: 3016-3031
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  • Tollin, D.J., McClaine, E.M. and Yin, T.C.T. (2010) Short-latency, goal-directed movements of the pinnae to sounds that produce auditory spatial illusions. J. Neurophysiol. 103: 446-457
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  • Dent, M.L., Tollin, D.J., and Yin, T.C.T. (2009) The influence of sound source location on the behavior and physiology of the precedence effect in cats. J. Neurophysiol. 102: 724-734
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  • Tollin, D.J., Ruhland, J.L., and Yin, T.C.T. (2009) The vestibulo-auricular reflex. J. Neurophysiol. 101: 1258-1266
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  • Moore, J.M., Tollin, D.J., and Yin, T.C.T. (2008) Can measures of sound localization acuity be related to the precision of absolute location estimates? Hear. Res. 238: 94-109
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  • Joris, P.X. and Yin, T.C.T. (2007) A matter of time: internal delays in binaural processing. Trends in Neurosci. 30: 70-78, 2007
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  • Tollin, D.J. and Yin, T.C.T. (2005) Interaural phase and level difference sensitivity in low-frequency neurons in the lateral superior olive. J. Neurosci. 25: 10648-10657
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  • Tollin, D.J., Populin, L.C., Moore, J., Ruhland, J.L., and Yin, T.C.T. (2005) Sound localization performance in the cat: the effect of restraining the head. J. Neurophysiol. 93: 1223-1234
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  • Dent, M.L., Tollin, D.J. and Yin, T.C.T. (2005), Psychophysical and physiological studies of the precedence effect in cats. Acta Acustica 91: 463-470.
     
  • Dent, M.L., Tollin, D.J., and Yin, T.C.T. (2004), Cats exhibit the Franssen effect illusion. J. Acoust. Soc. Amer. 116: 3070-3074.
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  • Populin, L.C., Tollin, D.J., and Yin, T.C.T. (2004) Effect of eye position on saccades and neuronal responses to acoustic stimuli in the superior colliculus of the behaving cat. J Neurophysiol. 91: 2151-2167.
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  • Tollin, D.J., Populin, L.C., and Yin, T.C.T. (2004), Neural correlates of the precedence effect in the inferior colliculus of behaving cats. J. Neurophysiol. 92: 3286-3297.
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  • Batra, R. and Yin, T.C.T. (2004). Cross-correlation by neurons in the medial superior olive: a re-examination. J. Assoc. Research Otolaryngol. 5: 238-252.
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  • Yin, T.C.T. (2004). Buried in the noise. Focus on "temporal properties of responses to broadband noise in the auditory nerve". J. Neurophysiol. 91:1934-5.
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  • Tollin D.J. and Yin T.C.T. (2003), Spectral cues explain illusory elevation effects with stereo sounds in cats. J. Neurophysiol. 90: 525-530.
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  • Tollin, D.J. and Yin, T.C.T. (2003), Psychophysical investigation of an auditory spatial illusion in cats: the precedence effect. J Neurophysiol., 90: 2149 - 2162.
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  • Tollin, D.J. and Yin, T.C.T. (2002), The coding of spatial location by single units in the lateral superior olive of the cat. I. Spatial receptive fields in azimuth. J. Neurosci. 22: 1454-1467.
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  • Tollin, D.J. and Yin, T.C.T. (2002), The coding of spatial location by single units in the lateral superior olive of the cat. II. The determinants of spatial receptive fields in azimuth. J. Neurosci. 22: 1468-1479.
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