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Insect Acoustic Communication

The Neural Basis of Acoustic Communication

Welcome to our website. My group is interested in analyzing neural mechanisms underlying auditory processing and acoustic signal generation. We tackle these questions in acoustically communicating insects like crickets, bush-crickets, grasshoppers or cicadas, which all exhibit complex auditory behaviour. As acoustic signals spread over long distances even in dense vegetation, they play an important role for mate attraction and rivalry behaviour.
Males generate complex motor programs for acoustic signaling employing a genetically determined central pattern generatoir. They produce species-specific song patterns using very different “musical instruments”: during singing crickets and bush-crickets rub their front wings together, grasshoppers sing by scratching the hind-legs against the wings and cicadas use timbals for sound production. Females may indicate their readiness to mate by a response song or by approaching the singing male using just the acoustic cues of its song for orientation. Both sexes possess sensitive ears for auditory processing. Moreover the animals are highly tuned towards the species-specific song patterns by neural filter mechanisms in their brain. Consequently some of the insects have become “model systems” to analyze fundamental neurobiological questions of acoustic signaling and auditory processing.

You can have a look at grasshopper singing behaviour at:
http://www.iwf.de/iwf/do/mkat/details.aspx?Signatur=C+1995

 


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