Time and Frequency domain processing in the inferior colliculus of echolocating bats

Hear Res. 1981 Nov;5(2-3):317-35. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(81)90055-1.


Tone bursts and frequency-modulated (FM) signals were presented to Mexican free-tailed bats and tuning curves, discharge patterns, and discharge latencies of single units in the inferior colliculus were recorded. Cells were broadly tuned to tone bursts, with most Q 10 values ranging from 3 to 20. However, in response to FM stimulation the discharges of neurons were closely synchronized to the time of occurrence of restricted frequency components within the FM sweep. These excitatory frequencies (EFs) were generally unaffected by changes in the starting frequency or intensity of the stimulus. Thus, in response to FM signals, the cells exhibited a much greater frequency selectivity than that observed following tone burst stimulation. Across the population of neurons sampled, EFs covering a wide frequency range were found, and the different EFs were represented in a systematic fashion within the colliculus. The frequencies in an FM biosonar signal or echo will thus be neurally represented both by the time of occurrence of neuronal discharges and by the location of the discharging cells within the nucleus. The potential role of this dual frequency coding in spectral and temporal processing of biosonar signals and echoes is discussed, with emphasis on the neural coding of target range.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Reaction Time