Frequency organization and responses to complex sounds in the medial geniculate body of the mustached bat.


Frequency organization and responses to complex sounds in the medial geniculate body of the mustached bat.


Wenstrup J J


Journal of neurophysiology




The auditory cortex of the mustached bat (Pteronotus parnellii) displays some of the most highly developed physiological and organizational features described in mammalian auditory cortex. This study examines response properties and organization in the medial geniculate body (MGB) that may contribute to these features of auditory cortex. About 25% of 427 auditory responses had simple frequency tuning with single excitatory tuning curves. The remainder displayed more complex frequency tuning using two-tone or noise stimuli. Most of these were combination-sensitive, responsive to combinations of different frequency bands within sonar or social vocalizations. They included FM-FM neurons, responsive to different harmonic elements of the frequency modulated (FM) sweep in the sonar signal, and H1-CF neurons, responsive to combinations of the bat's first sonar harmonic (H1) and a higher harmonic of the constant frequency (CF) sonar signal. Most combination-sensitive neurons (86%) showed facilitatory interactions. Neurons tuned to frequencies outside the biosonar range also displayed combination-sensitive responses, perhaps related to analyses of social vocalizations. Complex spectral responses were distributed throughout dorsal and ventral divisions of the MGB, forming a major feature of this bat's analysis of complex sounds. The auditory sector of the thalamic reticular nucleus also was dominated by complex spectral responses to sounds. The ventral division was organized tonotopically, based on best frequencies of singly tuned neurons and higher best frequencies of combination-sensitive neurons. Best frequencies were lowest ventrolaterally, increasing dorsally and then ventromedially. However, representations of frequencies associated with higher harmonics of the FM sonar signal were reduced greatly. Frequency organization in the dorsal division was not tonotopic; within the middle one-third of MGB, combination-sensitive responses to second and third harmonic CF sonar signals (60-63 and 90-94 kHz) occurred in adjacent regions. In the rostral one-third, combination-sensitive responses to second, third, and fourth harmonic FM frequency bands predominated. These FM-FM neurons, thought to be selective for delay between an emitted pulse and echo, showed some organization of delay selectivity. The organization of frequency sensitivity in the MGB suggests a major rewiring of the output of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus, by which collicular neurons tuned to the bat's FM sonar signals mostly project to the dorsal, not the ventral, division. Because physiological differences between collicular and MGB neurons are minor, a major role of the tecto-thalamic projection in the mustached bat may be the reorganization of responses to provide for cortical representations of sonar target features.


*Brain Mapping; Animal; Animals; Auditory Cortex/*physiology; Auditory Perception/*physiology; Chiroptera/*physiology; Electrophysiology/methods; Geniculate Bodies/*physiology; Neurons/*physiology; Pitch Discrimination/*physiology; Reaction Time; Ultrasonics; Vocalization


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Wenstrup J J, “Frequency organization and responses to complex sounds in the medial geniculate body of the mustached bat.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed May 16, 2021,

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