Send to

Choose Destination
J Comp Physiol A. 1989 Aug;165(4):471-93.

Audition in the praying mantis, Mantis religiosa L.: identification of an interneuron mediating ultrasonic hearing.

Author information

Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


1. The praying mantis possesses a single ear located in the ventral midline of the metathorax. We have studied the mantis' auditory nervous system using both extracellular and intracellular techniques and have identified anatomically and physiologically a mirror-image pair of interneurons (MR-501-T3) in the metathoracic ganglion that mediates ultrasonic hearing. 2. MR-501-T3 is tuned broadly to ultrasound with best sensitivity (55-60 dB SPL) between 25 and 45 kHz. Its tuning matches closely that of the whole tympanal nerve. 3. The physiological responses of MR-501-T3 are characterized by: (1) a phasic-tonic firing pattern with a distinctive initial burst at 500-800 spikes/s; (2) minimum latencies of 8-12 ms; (3) no spontaneous activity; (4) sigmoid intensity response curves with a small (10 dB) dynamic range; (5) accurate coding of stimulus duration and of repetition rates up to 60 pps. 4. The ascending axon of MR-501-T3 conducts action potentials at 4 m/s, a rate comparable with some giant fiber systems. 5. MR-501-T3 shows no directional capability. Sound from right and left produce identical responses in both cells of the pair. Neither cutting one tympanal nerve nor removing one hemi-ear leads to different responses in the two cells indicating that they must receive a common input, either from the auditory afferents or from interneurons. We present evidence that the two cells are not directly connected. 6. MR-501-T3 is a large, symmetrical cell with its processes primarily in the intermediate neuropil (lateral ring tract). Its integration segment crosses the midline in the supramedian commissure, and the cell body lies dorsally near the entrance of the leg nerve. The axon travels in the dorsal lateral tract and is one of the largest (17 microns) in the connective. 7. Given the strong anatomical similarities between MR-501-T3 and the G and B cells of the locust, these cells may be homologous. 8. We present arguments based on our physiological results and existing behavioral data that MR-501-T3 is part of an ultrasonic warning/escape system in the mantis. As in moths, lacewings, and crickets, this system may provide a defense against nocturnally foraging bats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center