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Schuller, Gerd (1979): Vocalization Influences Auditory Processing in Collicular Neurons of the CF-FM-Bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum. In: Journal of Comparative Physiology A, Vol. 132, No. 1: pp. 39-46 [PDF, 784kB]


1. In awake Greater Horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) the responses of 64 inferior colliculus neurons to electrically elicited vocalizations (VOC) and combinations of these with simulated echoes (AS: pure tones and AS(FM): sinusoidally frequency-modulated tones mimicking echoes from wing beating insects) were recorded. 2. The neurons responding to the species-specific echolocation sound elicited by electrical stimulation of the central grey matter had best frequencies between 76 and 86 kHz. The response patterns to the invariable echolocation sound varied from unit to unit (Fig. 1). 3. In 26 neurons the responses to vocalized echolocation sounds markedly differed from those to identical artificial ones copying the CF-portion of the vocalized sound (AS). These neurons reacted with a different response to the same pure tone whether it was presented artificially or vocalized by the bat (Fig. 2). In these neurons vocalization activities qualitatively alter the responsiveness to the stimulus parameters of the echoes. 4. A few neurons neither responded to vocalization nor to an identical pure tone but discharged when vocalization and pure tone were presented simultaneously. 5. In 2 neurons synchronized encoding of small frequency-modulations of the pure tone (mimicking an echo returning from a wing beating prey) occurred only during vocalization. Without vocalization the neurons did not respond to the identical stimulus set (Fig. 3). In these neurons vocalization activities enhanced FM-encoding capabilities otherwise not present in these neurons. 6. FM-encoding depended on the timing between vocalization and frequency-modulated signal (echo). As soon as vocalization and FM-signal no more overlapped or at least 60–80 ms after onset of vocalization synchronized firing to the FM was lost (4 neurons) (Fig. 4). 7. 4 neurons weakly responded to playbacks of the bat's own vocalization 1 ms after onset of vocalization. But when the playback frequency was shifted to higher frequencies by more than 400 Hz the neurons changed firing patterns and the latency of the first response peak (Fig. 5). These neurons sensitive to frequency shifts in the echoes returning during vocalization may be relevant to the Doppler-shift compensation mechanism in Greater Horseshoe bats.

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