The auditory brainstem response in two lizard species

J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Aug;128(2):787-94. doi: 10.1121/1.3458813.


Although lizards have highly sensitive ears, it is difficult to condition them to sound, making standard psychophysical assays of hearing sensitivity impractical. This paper describes non-invasive measurements of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) in both Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko; nocturnal animals, known for their loud vocalizations) and the green anole (Anolis carolinensis, diurnal, non-vocal animals). Hearing sensitivity was measured in 5 geckos and 7 anoles. The lizards were sedated with isoflurane, and ABRs were measured at levels of 1 and 3% isoflurane. The typical ABR waveform in response to click stimulation showed one prominent and several smaller peaks occurring within 10 ms of the stimulus onset. ABRs to brief tone bursts revealed that geckos and anoles were most sensitive between 1.6-2 kHz and had similar hearing sensitivity up to about 5 kHz (thresholds typically 20-50 dB SPL). Above 5 kHz, however, anoles were more than 20 dB more sensitive than geckos and showed a wider range of sensitivity (1-7 kHz). Generally, thresholds from ABR audiograms were comparable to those of small birds. Best hearing sensitivity, however, extended over a larger frequency range in lizards than in most bird species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Factors
  • Vocalization, Animal