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Keywords:

  • electrophysiological mapping;
  • frequency representation;
  • hearing;
  • neural audiogram;
  • short-tailed fruit bat

Abstract

In the short-tailed fruit bat (Carollia perspicillata), the auditory cortex was localized autoradiographically and studied electrophysiologically in detail by using metal microelectrodes and 10-ms tone stimuli. Because, in the weakly-anaesthetized preparation, neuronal responses to pure-tones were even found throughout the non-primary auditory cortex, characteristic frequencies and minimum thresholds of neuron clusters (multiunits) could be mapped consistently and used to define auditory cortical fields conventionally (i.e. as in studies of auditory cortex of non-echolocating mammals). Thus, within the electrophysiologically demarcated auditory cortex, six auditory fields were defined by criteria, as for example a gradient of characteristic frequencies (primary auditory cortex, AI; anterior auditory field, AAF; secondary auditory cortex, AII), reversal of the gradient across the field border (AI, AAF), uniform representation of a restricted band of frequencies (i.e. > 60 kHz; high-frequency fields I and II, HFI and HFII), and transition from low to high minimum thresholds or vice versa [dorsoposterior field (DP), AII, HFI, HFII]. As supportive evidence for the distinction of these auditory cortical fields, differences in neuronal response properties were also used. In comparison with other mammals (e.g. cat and mouse), both the relative position of the auditory fields (mainly AI, AAF, DP and AII) and the representational principles for sound parameters within these forebrain areas seem to reflect a ‘fundamental plan’ (discussion below) of mammalian auditory cortical organization. Two coherent dorsally displaced high-frequency representations (HFI, HFII) covering ∼ 40% of the total auditory cortical surface seem particularly suited for the processing of the dominant biosonar second and third harmonic of this species, and hence can be regarded as an adaptation for echolocation.