Frequency Sensitivity of Single Auditory Neurons in the Gecko Coleonyx variegatus

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Science  07 Jul 1967:
Vol. 157, Issue 3784, pp. 88-90
DOI: 10.1126/science.157.3784.88


Although acoustic communication is not pronounced in reptiles, analysis of single auditory neurons in the medulla oblongata shows that the cochlea is a frequency analyser. Auditory neurons of the lizard Coleonyx variegatus respond to acoustic stimuli over a range of less than 0.1 to 17 kilohertz and are maximally responsive between 0.8 and 2.0 kilohertz. The frequencies to which they are most sensitive differ from neuron to neuron, ranging from 0.11 to 4 kilohertz. Some neurons have an inhibitory area which greatly overlaps the response area, so that inhibitory areas do not seem to sharply tune the response area at this level of the auditory tract. The inhibitory area is responsible for producing in some neurons a phasic response and nonmonotonic relation between sound intensity and number of impulses. The response pattern shows a tendency to change from tonic to phasic in more advanced auditory centers. This may serve to code rapid changes in the acoustic stimuli.

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