Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 155, Issue 1, pp 91–101 | Cite as

Auditory sensitivity in the fish-catching bat,Noctilio leporinus

  • Jeffrey J. Wenstrup


Behavioral and auditory brainstem response (ABR) audiograms are described for the fish-catching bat,Noctilio leporinus, which uses short constant frequency/frequency modulated (short-CF/FM) sonar pulses with a CF component of 56–59 kHz, followed by an FM sweep down to 28–32 kHz. Social communication signals contain the frequencies found in sonar pulses, but may extend to lower frequencies (16 kHz).
  1. 2.

    Behavioral thresholds, obtained by operant conditioning in three bats, display maximum sensitivity in the region of the bats' CF sonar component, but show good sensitivity (thresholds less than 10 dB SPL) between 32 and 57 kHz. Below 24 to 32 kHz, sensitivity declined at a rate of 35 to 45 dB/octave. No response was obtained below 1 kHz.

  2. 3.

    The most prominent feature of the behavioral audiogram is an abrupt increase in threshold above 56 to 58 kHz, with an initial roll-off as high as 550 dB/octave. A threshold ‘plateau’ exists between 64 and 96 kHz, but sensitivity declines rapidly above 96 kHz. No response was obtained above 120 kHz.

  3. 4.

    ABR audiograms were obtained in two animals in which behavioral thresholds had been measured previously. These display a broadly tuned peak of maximum sensitivity at 24 kHz and a more sharply tuned sensitivity peak in the region between 56 and 59 kHz. No responses were obtained below 1 kHz or above 96 kHz.

  4. 5.

    Differences in the shape of the behavioral and ABR threshold curves are discussed. It is suggested that the two sensitivity peaks in the ABR may result from a disproportionately large representation of frequencies corresponding to social communication signals (24 kHz) and the bat's CF sonar pulse (56 to 59 kHz).

  5. 6.

    The behavioral audiogram ofN. leporinus is compared to those of other bats, and functional implications are discussed.



Sonar Operant Conditioning Maximum Sensitivity Auditory Brainstem Response Functional Implication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



auditory brainstem response


constant frequency


frequency modulated


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey J. Wenstrup
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Sciences ProgramIndiana University School of MedicineBloomingtonUSA

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