The effect of pulse repetition rate on the delay sensitivity of neurons in the auditory cortex of the FM bat, Myotis lucifugus

J Comp Physiol A. 1992 Apr;170(4):393-402. doi: 10.1007/BF00191456.


1. Echo delay is the primary cue used by echolocating bats to determine target range. During target-directed flight, the repetition rate of pulse emission increases systematically as range decreases. Thus, we examined the delay tuning of 120 neurons in the auditory cortex of the bat, Myotis lucifugus, as repetition rate was varied. 2. Delay sensitivity was exhibited in 77% of the neurons over different ranges of pulse repetition rates (PRRs). Delay tuning typically narrowed and eventually disappeared at higher PRRs. 3. Two major types of delay-sensitive neurons were found: i) delay-tuned neurons (59%) had a single fixed best delay, while ii) tracking neurons (22%) changed their best delay with PRR. 4. PRRs from 1-100/s were represented by the population of delay-sensitive neurons, with the majority of neurons delay-sensitive at PRRs of at least 10-20/s. Thus, delay-dependent neurons in Myotis are most active during the search phase of echolocation. 5. Delay-sensitive neurons that also responded to single sounds were common. At PRRs where delay sensitivity was found, the responses to single sounds were reduced and the responses to pulse-echo pairs at particular delays were greater than the single-sound responses. In facilitated neurons (53%), the maximal delay-dependent response was always larger than the best single-sound responses, whereas in enhanced neurons (47%), these responses were comparable. The presence of neurons that respond maximally to single sounds at one PRR and to pulse-echo pairs with particular echo delays at other PRRs suggests that these neurons perform echo-ranging in conjunction with other biosonar functions during target pursuit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Echolocation / physiology
  • Electrodes
  • Neurons / physiology*