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Modeling the Nucleus Laminaris of the Barn Owl: Achieving 20 ps Resolution on a 85-MHz-Clocked Digital Device

Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00006
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Original Research


The nucleus laminaris of the barn owl auditory system is quite impressive, since its underlying time estimation is much better than the processing speed of the involved neurons. Since precise localization is also very important in many technical applications, this paper explores to what extent the main principles of the nucleus laminaris can be implemented in digital hardware. The first prototypical implementation yields a time resolution of about 20 ps, even though the chosen standard, low-cost device is clocked at only 85 MHz, which leads to an internal duty cycle of approximately 12 ns. In addition, this paper also explores the utility of an advanced sampling scheme, known as unfolding-in-time. It turns out that with this sampling method, the prototype can easily process input signals of up to 300 MHz, which is almost four times higher than the sampling rate.

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