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Christine Portfors

Field of Study: Neurophysiology, Bat biology
Title: Professor
Degrees: Ph.D., Biology, York University
Homepage: Homepage/Lab Web Site Link
Google Scholar:  Google Scholar
Office: 210 Vancouver
Phone: 360-546-9254
Fax: 360-546-9064
Mailing Address: School of Biological Sciences
Washington State University
PO Box 644236
Pullman,WA 99164-4236


My long term research goals are to understand how complex sounds are processed by the auditory system and to determine how age-related hearing loss impacts this processing. To achieve these goals, I utilize a systems-level neuroethological approach that makes use of my broad academic training from behavior to neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. I use natural vocalizations to probe the neural mechanisms underlying encoding of species-specific vocalizations in the auditory brainstem, midbrain and cortex of awake animals. I employ both mustached bats and mice as model systems because of their rich repertoires of complex species-specific vocalizations and my ability to record from individual neurons under awake conditions in these animals. I enhance the strength of my research program through strong collaborations with computational neuroscientists and neuroanatomists. My research at WSU Vancouver has been generously funded by NIH and NSF.

Representative Publications:

  • Holmstrom, L., Eeuwes, L.B., Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V.(2009). Efficient encoding of behaviorally relevant sounds in the auditory midbrain. Journal of Neuroscience. To appear.
  • Portfors, C.V., Jonson, K.G.** and Roberts, P.D. (2009). Over-representation of species-specific vocalizations in the awake mouse inferior colliculus. Neuroscience, 162, 486-500.
  • Holmstrom, L.*, Kim, S., McNames, J. and Portfors, C.V. (2009).Stimulus design for auditory neuroethology using state space modeling and the extended Kalman smoother. Hearing Research, 247, 1-16
  • Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2008). Design principles of sensory processing in cerebellum-like structures. Early stage processing of electrosensory and auditory objects. Biological Cybernetics, 98, 491-507.
  • Holmstrom, L.*, Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2007). Responses to social vocalizations in the inferior colliculus of the mustached bat are influenced by secondary tuning curves. Journal of Neurophysiology, 98, 3461-3472.
  • Felix, R.A*. and Portfors, C.V. (2007). Excitatory, inhibitory and facilitatory frequency response areas in the inferior colliculus of hearing impaired mice. Hearing Research. 228, 212-229.
  • Portfors, C.V. and Roberts, P.D. (2007). Temporal and frequency characteristics of cartwheel cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of the awake mouse. Journal of Neurophysiology. 98, 744-756.
  • Portfors, C.V. (2007). The Nuclei of the Lateral Lemniscus: Two Functional Systems. In: The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference, Vol. 3 Audition. (eds. P. Dallos and D. Oertel, editors), Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 751-758.
  • Hoxeng, C.M.*, Apling, M.**, Ritson, P.I. and Portfors, C.V. (2007). Light-tagging disrupts social dynamics of bat harems. Acta Chiroptologica, 9,161-169.
  • Portfors, C.V. (2007). Types and functions of ultrasonic vocalizations in laboratory rats and mice. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 46, 28-34.