Specialization of the auditory system for the processing of bio-sonar information in the frequency domain: Mustached bats

Hear Res. 2018 Apr;361:1-22. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2018.01.012. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


For echolocation, mustached bats emit velocity-sensitive orientation sounds (pulses) containing a constant-frequency component consisting of four harmonics (CF1-4). They show unique behavior called Doppler-shift compensation for Doppler-shifted echoes and hunting behavior for frequency and amplitude modulated echoes from fluttering insects. Their peripheral auditory system is highly specialized for fine frequency analysis of CF2 (∼61.0 kHz) and detecting echo CF2 from fluttering insects. In their central auditory system, lateral inhibition occurring at multiple levels sharpens V-shaped frequency-tuning curves at the periphery and creates sharp spindle-shaped tuning curves and amplitude tuning. The large CF2-tuned area of the auditory cortex systematically represents the frequency and amplitude of CF2 in a frequency-versus-amplitude map. "CF/CF" neurons are tuned to a specific combination of pulse CF1 and Doppler-shifted echo CF2 or 3. They are tuned to specific velocities. CF/CF neurons cluster in the CC ("C" stands for CF) and DIF (dorsal intrafossa) areas of the auditory cortex. The CC area has the velocity map for Doppler imaging. The DIF area is particularly for Dopper imaging of other bats approaching in cruising flight. To optimize the processing of behaviorally relevant sounds, cortico-cortical interactions and corticofugal feedback modulate the frequency tuning of cortical and sub-cortical auditory neurons and cochlear hair cells through a neural net consisting of positive feedback associated with lateral inhibition.

Keywords: Amplitude tuning; Combination-sensitive neurons; Doppler-shift compensation; Frequency-vs.-amplitude map; Sharpening of frequency tuning; Velocity map.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / psychology
  • Doppler Effect
  • Echolocation*
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Flight, Animal
  • Humans
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Pitch Perception*
  • Predatory Behavior
  • Vocalization, Animal*