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Keywords:

  • auditory cortex;
  • tonotopy;
  • cortical fields;
  • cortical maps;
  • horseshoe bat

Abstract

The extent and functional subdivisions of the auditory cortex in the echolocating horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus rouxi, were neurophysiologically investigated and compared to neuroarchitectural boundaries and projection fields from connectional investigations. The primary auditory field shows clear tonotopic organization with best frequencies increasing in the caudorostral direction. The frequencies near the bat's resting frequency are largely over-represented, occupying six to 12 times more neural space per kHz than in the lower frequency range. Adjacent to the rostral high-frequency portion of the primary cortical field, a second tonotopically organized field extends dorsally with decreasing best frequencies. Because of the reversed tonotopic gradient and the consistent responses of the neurons, the field is comparable to the anterior auditory field in other mammals. A third tonotopic trend for medium and low best frequencies is found dorsal to the caudal primary field. This area is considered to correspond to the dorsoposterior field in other mammals. Cortical neurons had different response properties and often preferences for distinct stimulus types. Narrowly tuned neurons (Q10dB < 20) were found in the rostral portion of the primary field, the anterior auditory field and in the posterior dorsal field. Neurons with double-peaked tuning curves were absent in the primary area, but occurred throughout the dorsal fields. Vocalization elicited most effectively neurons in the anterior auditory field. Exclusive response to pure tones was found in neurons of the rostral dorsal field. Neurons preferring sinusoidal frequency modulations were located in the primary field and the anterior and posterior dorsal fields adjacent to the primary area. Linear frequency modulations optimally activated only neurons of the dorsal part of the dorsal field. Noise-selective neurons were found in the dorsal fields bordering the primary area and the extreme caudal edge of the primary field. The data provide a survey of the functional organization of the horseshoe bat's auditory cortex in real coordinates with the support of cytoarchitectural boundaries and connectional data.