About Dr Christine Koeppl

Christine is fascinated by different evolutionary solutions to similar problems in the sensory worlds of animals (including humans) and what this tells us about the underlying processing principles.

Christine Koeppl is an internationally recognised expert on non-mammalian animal models in auditory research and on the evolution of the auditory system in vertebrates.

Christine Koeppl was trained in zoology at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Applying this unique biological background to work in auditory neuroscience, she has shown that basic research on a variety of appropriately selected animal models is instrumental in exposing profound principles in sensory coding and processing. These principles are applicable to all vertebrates, including humans.A prominent example is the barn owl, a bird of prey, which is a seminal model in auditory research for its extraordinary sound localisation abilities. Christine's work on the inner ear of the barn owl has shown that the basis for its extreme behavioural localisation performance is found there. She showed that the owl’s inner ear contains an extreme overrepresentation of behaviourally-relevant frequencies and the nerve fibres leaving the cochlea for the brainstem code the directional time cues with an incredible precision of 20 microseconds. This work has uniquely emphasised the extraordinary temporal precision that the auditory system of vertebrates generally is capable of and has prompted an ongoing search for the cellular and molecular specialisations enabling this.Christine Koeppl's work has been influential in showing that there is an amplification mechanism in the sensory cells of the inner ear which is shared by all vertebrates. Otoacoustic emissions (faint, inaudible sounds emitted from the inner ear) are a by-product of this amplification mechanism. We were the first to demonstrate otoacoustic emissions in reptiles and have established them as a common feature of vertebrate ears. Making use of a unique feature of the lizard inner ear, we subsequently demonstrated for the first time that a specific amplification mechanism suggested on the basis of in-vitro experiments is indeed operating in vivo.Christine has received several fellowships during her career, including the prestigious Heisenberg Stipend, the most senior fellowship (professorial level) awarded by the German Research Council (DFG). She maintains a number of international collaborations with colleagues in Germany and the USA. In 2006, Christine joined the Dept. of Physiology at the University of Sydney and is currently establishing her new laboratory.

Selected publications

  • Köppl C (2009) Evolution of sound localisation in land vertebrates. Current Biology 19:R635-R639. PMID: 19674542
  • Wibowo E, Brockhausen J, Köppl C (2009) Efferent innervation to the auditory basilar papilla of scincid lizards. J Comp Neurol 516:74 85. PMID: 19565665
  • Neubauer H, Köppl C, Heil P (2009) Spontaneous activity of auditory-nerve fibers in the barn owl (Tyto alba): analyses of interspike interval distributions. J Neurophysiol 101:3169-3191. PMID: 19357334
  • Köppl C, Carr CE (2008) Maps of interaural time difference in the chicken s brainstem nucleus laminaris. Biol Cybernet 98:541 559. PMID: 18491165
  • Köppl C, Nickel R (2007) Prolonged maturation of cochlear function in the barn owl after hatching. J Comp Physiol A 193:613 624. PMID: 17323066
  • Köppl C, Futterer E, Nieder B, Sistermann R, Wagner H (2005) Embryonic and posthatching development of the barn owl (Tyto alba): Reference data for age determination. Dev Dyn 233:1248-1260. PMID: 15861405
  • Grothe B, Carr CE, Cassedy JH, Fritzsch B, Köppl C (2004) The evolution of central pathways and their neural processing patterns. In: Evolution of the vertebrate auditory system (Manley GA, Popper A, Fay RR, eds), Springer Handbooks of Auditory Research. New York: Springer Verlag, pp. 289-359.
  • Köppl C, Carr CE (2003) Computational diversity in the cochlear nucleus angularis of the barn owl. J Neurophysiol 89: 2313-2329. PubMedId: 12612008
  • Manley GA, Kirk DL, Köppl C, Yates GK (2001) In-vivo evidence for a cochlear amplifier in the hair-cell bundle of lizards. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:2826-2831. PubMedId: 11226325
  • Köppl C, Yates GK (1999) Coding of sound pressure level in the barn owl's auditory nerve. J Neurosci 19:9674-9686. PubMedId: 10531469
  • Manley GA, Köppl C (1998) Phylogenetic development of the cochlea and its innervation. Curr Opin Neurobiol: 8:468-474. PubMedId: 9751658
  • Köppl C (1997) Phase locking to high frequencies in the auditory nerve and cochlear nucleus magnocellularis of the barn owl, Tyto alba. J Neurosci 17:3312-3321. PubMedId: 9096164
  • Köppl C (1997) Frequency tuning and spontaneous activity in the auditory nerve and cochlear nucleus magnocellularis of the barn owl Tyto alba. J Neurophysiol 77:364-377. PubMedId: 9120577
  • Köppl C (1995) Otoacoustic emissions as an indicator for active cochlear mechanics: A primitive property of vertebrate auditory organs. In: Advances in Hearing Research (Manley GA, Klump GM, Köppl C, Fastl H, Oeckinghaus H, eds), pp. 207-218. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.
  • Köppl C, Gleich O, Manley GA (1993) An auditory fovea in the barn owl cochlea. J Comp Physiol A 171:695-704.
  • Köppl C, Konishi M (1988) A neural map of interaural intensity differences in the brain stem of the barn owl. J Neurosci 8:2665-2676. PubMedId: 3411346