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Processing of ultrasound in a bush cricket's brain


Tim D. Ostrowski, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, 134 Research Park Drive, Columbia, Missouri 65211, U.S.A. Tel.: +1 573 884 0426; e-mail:


The processing and categorization of conspecific and heterospecific acoustic signals is an important task of the central nervous system. In orthopteran species, carrier frequency (besides temporal cues) is one of the major discriminators. In the bush cricket species Ancistrura nigrovittata Brunner von Wattenwyl (Phaneropteridae, Barbitistini), ultrasound has potentially different meanings and may elicit vastly different behaviours depending on the context it is perceived in. In the present study, data are presented of the morphology and neuronal responses of three local brain neurones (LBNs) that respond best to ultrasound. All neurones show dense arborizations in the lateral protocerebrum, where ascending interneurones terminate. The LBN2 and LBN9 neurones are entirely restricted to one side of the brain, whereas LBN5 crosses the midline, thereby linking both hemispheres. The response maxima for LBN2 overlap closely with the peak carrier frequencies found in a species-specific duet, which consists of sonic (16 kHz, male), as well as ultrasonic (24–28 kHz, female) sound. By contrast, LBN9 responds only to ultrasound in the range of the female reply, whereas the male song induces exceptionally long-lasting inhibition. The LBN5 neurone shows strongest spike activity to a broad range of ultrasonic frequencies, as long as the pulse duration remains short. All three brain neurones respond to ultrasound in a unique way and may be involved in the shaping of different behavioural outcomes.