Schuller, Gerd; Radtke-Schuller, Susanne
Neural control of vocalization in bats: mapping of brainstem areas with electrical microstimulation eliciting species-specific echolocation calls in the rufous horseshoe bat.
In: Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 79, No. 1: pp. 192-116
1. The functional role of brainstem structures in the emission of echolocation calls was investigated in the rufous horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus rouxi, with electrical low-current microstimulation procedures. 2. Vocalizations without temporal and/or spectral distortions could be consistently elicited at low threshold currents (typically below 10 A) within three clearly circumscribed brainstem areas, namely, the deep layers and ventral parts of the intermediate layers of the superior colliculus (SC), the deep mesencephalic nucleus (NMP) in the dorsal and lateral midbrain reticular formation and in a distinct area medial to the rostral parts of the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. The mean latencies in the three vocal areas between the start of the electrical stimulus and the elicited vocalizations were 47 msec, 38 msec and 31 msec, respectively. 3. In pontine regions and the cuneiform nucleus adjacent to these three vocal areas, thresholds for eliciting vocalizations were also low, but the vocalizations showed temporal and/or spectral distortions and were often accompanied or followed by arousal of the animal. 4. Stimulus intensity systematically influenced vocalization parameters at only a few brain sites. In the caudo-ventra1 portions of the deep superior colliculus the sound pressure level of the vocalizations systematically increased with stimulus intensity. Bursts of multiple vocalizations were induced at locations ventral to the rostral parts of the cuneiform nucleus. No stimulus-intensity dependent frequency changes of the emitted vocalizations were observed. 5. The respiratory cycle was synchronized to the electrical stimuli in all regions where vocalizations could be elicited as well as in more ventrally and medially adjacent areas not yielding vocalizations on stimulation. 6. The possible functional involvement of the vocal structures in the audio-vocal feedback system of the Dopplercompensating horseshoe bat is discussed.