Processing of temporally patterned sounds in the auditory cortex of Seba's short-tailed bat,Carollia perspicillata

Eur J Neurosci. 2017 Oct;46(8):2365-2379. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13702.


This article presents a characterization of cortical responses to artificial and natural temporally patterned sounds in the bat species Carollia perspicillata, a species that produces vocalizations at rates above 50 Hz. Multi-unit activity was recorded in three different experiments. In the first experiment, amplitude-modulated (AM) pure tones were used as stimuli to drive auditory cortex (AC) units. AC units of both ketamine-anesthetized and awake bats could lock their spikes to every cycle of the stimulus modulation envelope, but only if the modulation frequency was below 22 Hz. In the second experiment, two identical communication syllables were presented at variable intervals. Suppressed responses to the lagging syllable were observed, unless the second syllable followed the first one with a delay of at least 80 ms (i.e., 12.5 Hz repetition rate). In the third experiment, natural distress vocalization sequences were used as stimuli to drive AC units. Distress sequences produced by C. perspicillata contain bouts of syllables repeated at intervals of ~60 ms (16 Hz). Within each bout, syllables are repeated at intervals as short as 14 ms (~71 Hz). Cortical units could follow the slow temporal modulation flow produced by the occurrence of multisyllabic bouts, but not the fast acoustic flow created by rapid syllable repetition within the bouts. Taken together, our results indicate that even in fast vocalizing animals, such as bats, cortical neurons can only track the temporal structure of acoustic streams modulated at frequencies lower than 22 Hz.

Keywords: Carollia perspicillata; amplitude modulation; distress sequence; forward suppression; phase-locking.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Chiroptera
  • Female
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Vocalization, Animal*