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Psychophysical and neurophysiological hearing thresholds in the bat Phyllostomus discolor

Abstract

Absolute hearing thresholds in the spear-nosed bat Phyllostomus discolor have been determined both with psychophysical and neurophysiological methods. Neurophysiological data have been obtained from two different structures of the ascending auditory pathway, the inferior colliculus and the auditory cortex. Minimum auditory thresholds of neurons are very similar in both structures. Lowest absolute thresholds of 0 dB SPL are reached at frequencies from about 35 to 55 kHz in both cases. Overall behavioural sensitivity is roughly 20 dB better than neural sensitivity. The behavioural audiogram shows a first threshold dip around 23 kHz but threshold was lowest at 80 kHz (−10 dB SPL). This high sensitivity at 80 kHz is not reflected in the neural data. The data suggest that P. discolor has considerably better absolute auditory thresholds than estimated previously. The psychophysical and neurophysiological data are compared to other phyllostomid bats and differences are discussed.

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Abbreviations

AC:

Auditory cortex

BF:

Best frequency

CF:

Constant frequency

FM:

Frequency modulated

FRA:

Frequency response area

IC:

Inferior colliculus

SPL:

Sound pressure level

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Susanne Radtke-Schuller for her help with reconstruction of recording sites, Claudia Schulte and Horst König for technical help and Britta Schwellnus for help during neurophysiological experiments. All experiments were performed in agreement with the principles of laboratory animal care and under the regulations of the current version of German Law on Animal Protection (approval 209.1/211-2531-68/03 Reg. Oberbayern). This work was supported by the Volkswagen Foundation (I/79782 and I/79780) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft GRK 1091 “Orientation and Motion in Space”.

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Correspondence to Susanne Hoffmann.

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S. Hoffmann, L. Baier, F. Borina contributed equally to this work.

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Hoffmann, S., Baier, L., Borina, F. et al. Psychophysical and neurophysiological hearing thresholds in the bat Phyllostomus discolor . J Comp Physiol A 194, 39–47 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-007-0288-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-007-0288-9

Keywords

  • Audiogram
  • Neurophysiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Echolocation
  • Chiroptera