Species-specificity of temporal processing in the auditory midbrain of gray treefrogs: interval-counting neurons

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2015 May;201(5):485-503. doi: 10.1007/s00359-015-0997-4. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


Interval-counting neurons (ICNs) respond after a threshold number of sound pulses have occurred with specific intervals; a single aberrant interval can reset the counting process. Female gray treefrogs, Hyla chrysoscelis and H. versicolor, discriminate against synthetic 'calls' possessing a single interpulse interval 2-3 three times the optimal value, suggesting that ICNs are important for call recognition. The calls of H. versicolor consist of pulses that are longer in duration, rise more slowly in amplitude and are repeated at a slower rate than those of H. chrysoscelis. Results of recordings from midbrain auditory neurons in these species include: (1) ICNs were found in both species and their temporal selectivity appeared to result from interplay between excitation and inhibition; (2) band-pass cells in H. versicolor were tuned to slower pulse rates than those in H. chrysoscelis; (3) ICNs that were selective for slow-rise pulse shape were found almost exclusively in H. versicolor, but fast-rise-selective neurons were found in both species, and (4) band-suppression ICNs in H. versicolor showed response minima at higher pulse rates than those in H. chrysoscelis. Selectivity of midbrain ICNs for pulse rise time and repetition rate thus correlate well with discriminatory abilities of these species that promote reproductive isolation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anura / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Pathways
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Inferior Colliculi / cytology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Sound
  • Species Specificity*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*