Influence of Different Envelope Maskers on Signal Recognition and Neuronal Representation in the Auditory System of a GrasshopperReportar como inadecuado

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Animals that communicate by sound face the problem that the signals arriving at the receiver often are degraded and masked by noise. Frequency filters in the receiver-s auditory system may improve the signal-to-noise ratio SNR by excluding parts of the spectrum which are not occupied by the species-specific signals. This solution, however, is hardly amenable to species that produce broad band signals or have ears with broad frequency tuning. In mammals auditory filters exist that work in the temporal domain of amplitude modulations AM. Do insects also use this type of filtering?

Principal Findings

Combining behavioural and neurophysiological experiments we investigated whether AM filters may improve the recognition of masked communication signals in grasshoppers. The AM pattern of the sound, its envelope, is crucial for signal recognition in these animals. We degraded the species-specific song by adding random fluctuations to its envelope. Six noise bands were used that differed in their overlap with the spectral content of the song envelope. If AM filters contribute to reduced masking, signal recognition should depend on the degree of overlap between the song envelope spectrum and the noise spectra. Contrary to this prediction, the resistance against signal degradation was the same for five of six masker bands. Most remarkably, the band with the strongest frequency overlap to the natural song envelope 0–100 Hz impaired acceptance of degraded signals the least. To assess the noise filter capacities of single auditory neurons, the changes of spike trains as a function of the masking level were assessed. Increasing levels of signal degradation in different frequency bands led to similar changes in the spike trains in most neurones.


There is no indication that auditory neurones of grasshoppers are specialized to improve the SNR with respect to the pattern of amplitude modulations.

Autor: Daniela Neuhofer , Bernhard Ronacher



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