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The effects of time, space and spectrum on auditory grouping in túngara frogs

Abstract

Male túngara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus) produce complex calls consisting of two components, a ~350 ms FM sweep called the “whine” followed by up to seven ~40 ms harmonic bursts called “chucks”. In order to choose and locate a calling male, females attending to choruses must group call components into auditory streams to correctly assign calls to their sources. Previously we showed that spatial cues play a limited role in grouping: calls with normal spectra and temporal structure are grouped over wide angular separations (≤135°). In this study we again use phonotaxis to first test whether an alternative cue, the sequence of call components, plays a role in auditory grouping and second, whether grouping is mediated by peripheral or central mechanisms. We found that while grouping is not limited to the natural call sequence, it does vary with the relative onset times of the two calls. To test whether overlapping stimulation in the periphery is required for grouping, the whine and chuck were filtered to restrict their spectra to the sensitivity ranges of the amphibian and basilar papillae, respectively. For these dichotic-like stimuli, grouping still occurred (albeit only to 45° separation), suggesting that stream formation is mediated by central mechanisms.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Rex Cocroft, Dennis McFadden, Carl Gerhardt, Walt Wilczynski and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the project and/or manuscript. Thanks to X. Bernal, F. V. Candioti, K. Lynch, K. Boul, J. Scarl, and S. Barrionuevo for help with data collection. This research was supported by NSF IBN 98 16564, and a Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Grant to MJR and ASR. HEF was supported by funds from the College of Natural Science, University of Texas at Austin. We thank the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for the their hospitality and logistical support. The experiments comply with the NIH guidelines for animal care (pub. #86-23).

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Correspondence to H. E. Farris.

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Farris, H.E., Rand, A.S. & Ryan, M.J. The effects of time, space and spectrum on auditory grouping in túngara frogs. J Comp Physiol A 191, 1173–1183 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-005-0041-1

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Keywords

  • Cocktail party effect
  • Auditory stream
  • Auditory scene analysis
  • Complex call
  • Mate choice
  • Chorus
  • Phonotaxis
  • Amphibian
  • Frog
  • Túngara
  • Physalaemus pustulosus