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eNeuro. 2017 Dec 13;4(6). pii: ENEURO.0314-17.2017. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0314-17.2017. eCollection 2017 Nov-Dec.

Processing of Natural Echolocation Sequences in the Inferior Colliculus of Seba's Fruit Eating Bat, Carollia perspicillata.

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Institut für Zellbiologie und Neurowissenschaft, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main 60438, Germany.
Department of Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology, Biozentrum, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, Würzburg 97074, Germany.


For the purpose of orientation, echolocating bats emit highly repetitive and spatially directed sonar calls. Echoes arising from call reflections are used to create an acoustic image of the environment. The inferior colliculus (IC) represents an important auditory stage for initial processing of echolocation signals. The present study addresses the following questions: (1) how does the temporal context of an echolocation sequence mimicking an approach flight of an animal affect neuronal processing of distance information to echo delays? (2) how does the IC process complex echolocation sequences containing echo information from multiple objects (multiobject sequence)? Here, we conducted neurophysiological recordings from the IC of ketamine-anaesthetized bats of the species Carollia perspicillata and compared the results from the IC with the ones from the auditory cortex (AC). Neuronal responses to an echolocation sequence was suppressed when compared to the responses to temporally isolated and randomized segments of the sequence. The neuronal suppression was weaker in the IC than in the AC. In contrast to the cortex, the time course of the acoustic events is reflected by IC activity. In the IC, suppression sharpens the neuronal tuning to specific call-echo elements and increases the signal-to-noise ratio in the units' responses. When presenting multiple-object sequences, despite collicular suppression, the neurons responded to each object-specific echo. The latter allows parallel processing of multiple echolocation streams at the IC level. Altogether, our data suggests that temporally-precise neuronal responses in the IC could allow fast and parallel processing of multiple acoustic streams.


acoustic; bats; inferior colliculus; orientation; suppression; temporal processing

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