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J Comp Physiol A. 1996 Oct;179(4):437-45.

Sound and vibration sensitivity of VIIIth nerve fibers in the grassfrog, Rana temporaria.

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Center for Sound Communication, University of Odense, Denmark.


We have studied the sound and vibration sensitivity of 164 amphibian papilla fibers in the VIIIth nerve of the grassfrog, Rana temporaria. The VIIIth nerve was exposed using a dorsal approach. The frogs were placed in a natural sitting posture and stimulated by free-field sound. Furthermore, the animals were stimulated with dorso-ventral vibrations, and the sound-induced vertical vibrations in the setup could be canceled by emitting vibrations in antiphase from the vibration exciter. All low-frequency fibers responded to both sound and vibration with sound thresholds from 23 dB SPL and vibration thresholds from 0.02 cm/s2. The sound and vibration sensitivity was compared for each fiber using the offset between the rate-level curves for sound and vibration stimulation as a measure of relative vibration sensitivity. When measured in this way relative vibration sensitivity decreases with frequency from 42 dB at 100 Hz to 25 dB at 400 Hz. Since sound thresholds decrease from 72 dB SPL at 100 Hz to 50 dB SPL at 400 Hz the decrease in relative vibration sensitivity reflects an increase in sound sensitivity with frequency, probably due to enhanced tympanic sensitivity at higher frequencies. In contrast, absolute vibration sensitivity is constant in most of the frequency range studied. Only small effects result from the cancellation of sound-induced vibrations. The reason for this probably is that the maximal induced vibrations in the present setup are 6-10 dB below the fibers' vibration threshold at the threshold for sound. However, these results are only valid for the present physical configuration of the setup and the high vibration-sensitivities of the fibers warrant caution whenever the auditory fibers are stimulated with free-field sound. Thus, the experiments suggest that the low-frequency sound sensitivity is not caused by sound-induced vertical vibrations. Instead, the low-frequency sound sensitivity is either tympanic or mediated through bone conduction or sound-induced pulsations of the lungs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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