Pulses, patterns and paths: neurobiology of acoustic behaviour in crickets

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2006 Jul;192(7):677-89. doi: 10.1007/s00359-006-0115-8. Epub 2006 Mar 8.


Crickets use acoustic communication for pair formation. Males sing with rhythmical movements of their wings and the mute females approach the singing males by phonotaxis. Females walking on a trackball rapidly steer towards single sound pulses when exposed to split-song paradigms. Their walking path emerges from consecutive reactive steering responses, which show no temporal selectivity. Temporal pattern recognition is tuned to the species-specific syllable rate and gradually changes the gain of auditory steering. If pattern recognition is based on instantaneous discharge rate coding, then the tuning to the species-specific song pattern may already be present at the level of thoracic interneurons. During the processing of song patterns, changes in cytosolic Ca(2+ )concentrations occur in phase with the chirp rhythm in the local auditory interneurone. Male singing behaviour is controlled by command neurons descending from the brain. The neuropil controlling singing behaviour is located in the anterior protocerebrum next to the mushroom bodies. Singing behaviour is released by injection of cholinergic agonists and inhibited by gamma-butyric acid (GABA). During singing, the sensitivity of the peripheral auditory system remains unchanged but a corollary discharge inhibits auditory processing in afferents and interneurons within the prothoracic auditory neuropil and prevents the auditory neurons from desensitisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gryllidae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurobiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / physiology*
  • Sound Localization / physiology*