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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2009 Apr;195(4):341-9. doi: 10.1007/s00359-008-0410-7. Epub 2009 Jan 30.

Female reproductive state influences the auditory midbrain response.

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Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A8000, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Female behavioral responses to sensory stimuli can be highly variable across the reproductive cycle. Female green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) use the male vocal signal to locate and choose a mate. Gravid females approach a vocalizing male to mate but do not approach if they have recently mated. Such differences in behavioral response may be due in part to shifts in the neural representation of auditory information in the brain. In this study, we investigated the influence of female reproductive state on neural responses in the auditory midbrain to both communication signals (advertisement calls) and non-communication sounds (band limited noise bursts). Recently mated females exhibited significantly reduced response strengths compared to females not recently mated. Reduced response strengths in post-mated females were in response to both noise bursts and male advertisement calls but were limited to the lower frequency range corresponding to the amphibian papilla of the peripheral auditory system. Our results therefore show that the ability of social signals to stimulate the auditory system differs in females depending on their reproductive state, and that the differential effect on low versus high spectral sensitivities may influence the way the two spectral peaks of male advertisement calls are represented.

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