Orienting responses and vocalizations produced by microstimulation in the superior colliculus of the echolocating bat, Eptesicus fuscus
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An echolocating bat actively controls the spatial acoustic information that drives its behavior by directing its head and ears and by modulating the spectro-temporal structure of its outgoing sonar emissions. The superior colliculus may function in the coordination of these orienting components of the bat's echolocation system. To test this hypothesis, chemical and electrical microstimulation experiments were carried out in the superior colliculus of the echolocating bat, Eptesicus fuscus, a species that uses frequency modulated sonar signals. Microstimulation elicited pinna and head movements, similar to those reported in other vertebrate species, and the direction of the evoked behaviors corresponded to the site of stimulation, yielding a map of orienting movements in the superior colliculus. Microstimulation of the bat superior colliculus also elicited sonar vocalizations, a motor behavior specific to the bat's acoustic orientation by echolocation. Electrical stimulation of the adjacent periaqueductal gray, shown to be involved in vocal production in other mammalian species, elicited vocal signals resembling acoustic communication calls of E. fuscus. The control of vocal signals in the bat is an integral part of its acoustic orienting system, and our findings suggest that the superior colliculus supports diverse and species-relevant sensorimotor behaviors, including those used for echolocation.
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