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J Neurosci. 1993 Mar;13(3):931-40.

Combination-sensitive neurons in the primary auditory cortex of the mustached bat.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130.


In the mustached bat, Pteronotus parnellii, neurons in the primary auditory cortex (AI) have been thought to respond primarily to single frequencies, as in other mammals. However, neurons in the Doppler-shifted constant-frequency (DSCF) area, a part of the mustached bat's AI that contains an overrepresentation of the prominent CF2 component of the biosonar signal, were found to show facilitative responses to combinations of different frequencies in the pulse and echo. The essential components for facilitation were the pulse FM1 and the echo CF2. The FM1-CF2 facilitation was sensitive to echo delays, indicating that DSCF neurons respond better to targets within particular ranges. On average, the longest discriminable echo delay, based on increased impulse counts due to facilitation, corresponded to a target range of 4.3 m, and the most discriminable delay corresponded to a target 3.6 m distant. Since mustached bats first show a behavioral response to a target at a distance of 3-4 m, DSCF neurons are suited to signal the presence of an insect within this behaviorally important range. DSCF neurons were broadly tuned to echo delay, with the average minimum discriminable echo delay corresponding to a target range of 1.9 m, and the delay tuning of the neurons followed (tracked) changes in pulse duration, indicating that facilitation occurs during much of the approach phase of insect pursuit when target characterization is presumably occurring. These results show that AI neurons in the mustached bat are specialized to respond to complex, behaviorally relevant stimuli during the search and approach phases of insect pursuit.

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