טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentLev-Ari Tidhar
SubjectBehavioral and Physiological Study of Visual Search in Barn
Owls (Tyto alba)
DepartmentDepartment of Medicine
Supervisor Professor Yoram Gutfreund


Abstract

At any moment, an enormous amount of information reaches our eyes. To guide our gaze through space, attentional mechanisms act to prioritize and filter relevant stimuli out of this vast flow of information. How does this process work? Where in the brain does it take place? These fundamental questions have been extensively studied throughout the last century. The research on attention mainly focuses on mammals, especially humans and non-human primates. Mammals and birds have been evolutionarily separated for over 300 million years, yet the latest studies suggest that attentional mechanisms are much more preserved between mammals and birds than previously thought. During the last decade, the barn owl became an emerging model for the study of attentional processes in birds. The barn owls (Tyto alba), known for their unique sound localization capabilities, do not move their eyes in orbits. This provides an experimental advantage since tracking their gaze is sufficiently obtained by tracking their head motion. In this thesis I will present our findings showing behavioral evidence and neural correlates of motion perceptual grouping, our findings on orientation-contrast based saliency and our findings on the interaction between top-down and bottom-up attention in barn owls. Lastly I will present our study on inhibition of return in barn owls and humans.