Pitch discrimination performance of ferrets and humans on a go/no-go task.
Walker KMM., Davies A., Bizley JK., Schnupp JWH., King AJ.
<jats:p>Animal models are widely used to examine the neurophysiological basis of human pitch perception, and it is therefore important to understand the similarities and differences in pitch processing across species. Pitch discrimination performance is usually measured using two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) procedures in humans and go/no-go tasks in animals, potentially confounding human-to-animal comparisons. We have previously shown that pitch discrimination thresholds of ferrets on a 2AFC task are markedly poorer than those reported for go/no-go tasks in other non-human species (Walker et al., 2009). To better compare the pitch discrimination performance of ferret with other species, here we measure pitch change detection thresholds of ferrets and humans on a common, appetitive go/no-go task design. We found that ferrets' pitch thresholds were approximately 10 times larger than that of humans on the go/no-go task, and were within the range of thresholds reported in other non-human species. Interestingly, ferrets' thresholds were 100 times larger than human thresholds on a 2AFC pitch discrimination task using the same stimuli. These results emphasize that sensory discrimination thresholds can differ across tasks, particularly for non-human animals. Performance on our go/no-go task is likely to reflect different neurobiological processes than that on our 2AFC task, as the former required the subjects only to detect a pitch change while the latter required them to label the direction of the pitch change.</jats:p>