Auditory pattern recognition by the CNS is a fundamental process in acoustic communication. Because crickets communicate with stereotyped patterns of constant frequency syllables, they are established models to investigate the neuronal mechanisms of auditory pattern recognition. Here we provide evidence that for the neural processing of amplitude-modulated sounds, the instantaneous spike rate rather than the time-averaged neural activity is the appropriate coding principle by comparing both coding parameters in a thoracic interneuron (Omega neuron ON1) of the cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus) auditory system. When stimulated with different temporal sound patterns, the analysis of the instantaneous spike rate demonstrates that the neuron acts as a low-pass filter for syllable patterns. The instantaneous spike rate is low at high syllable rates, but prominent peaks in the instantaneous spike rate are generated as the syllable rate resembles that of the species-specific pattern. The occurrence and repetition rate of these peaks in the neuronal discharge are sufficient to explain temporal filtering in the cricket auditory pathway as they closely match the tuning of phonotactic behavior to different sound patterns. Thus temporal filtering or "pattern recognition" occurs at an early stage in the auditory pathway.