Auditory Pontine Grey: Connections and Response Properties in the Horseshoe Bat


Ellen Covey, as above


This study investigates the role of the pontine grey as a link between the auditory system and the cerebellum in the bat, Rhinolophus rouxi. We recorded response properties of single neurons in the pontine grey and, in the same preparation, injected wheat germ agglutinin - horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) in areas responsive to sound. Thus the functional evidence was correlated with retrograde and anterograde transport. The main results are: (i) all auditory neurons in the pontine grey are tuned within one of two harmonically related frequency ranges of the echolocation call. The upper range corresponds to the constant frequency and frequency modulated components of the second harmonic, but the lower range corresponds only to the frequency modulated component of the first harmonic. There is no systematic tonotopic organization; (ii) discharge patterns are extremely variable, latencies cover a wide range, and about half of the neurons are binaurally responsive with excitation from both ears; (iii) most pontine auditory neurons respond preferentially to frequency modulated stimuli; (iv) there is massive input to the pontine grey from the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus; (v) cortical input to the pontine grey does not originate in tonotopically organized auditory cortex. The input is from a dorsal belt area that is specialized for processing combinations of sounds with specific frequency ratios and delays; (vi) projections from the auditory region of the pontine grey are widespread within the cerebellar cortex. The data suggest that the pontine grey transmits to the cerebellum information contained in specific components of the bat's biosonar signal.