skip to content

Neuromodulation of cricket phonotactic behaviour

Supervisors: Berthold Hedwig and Steven Rogers


Female crickets walk directly towards the songs of males calling for mates, a behaviour known as phonotaxis. The occurrence and intensity of phonotaxis varies with the motivational state of the female. This project aims to analyse the possible role of neuromodulation by the biogenic amines, serotonin, dopamine and octopamine in altering phonotactic behaviour.

Phonotaxis can be readily elicited in the lab using tethered females walking on a trackball whilst recordings of male songs are played, allowing precise measurements of behaviour. Performance of females will be measured after administration of pharmacological agents either mimicking the effects or blocking the action of biogenic amines. In addition the project offers the possibility to use immunohistochemistry to stain neurons in the central nervous system that express biogenic amines and relate their anatomy to known regions of auditory processing.

What the student will be doing

Phonotaxis experiments under the impact of neuroactive substances, comparison with control experiments, statistical analysis, immune-histological staining of transmitters in the central nervous system.


Hedwig, B and Poulet, JEA (2005) Mechanisms underlying phonotactic steering in the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus revealed with a fast trackball system. J. Exp. Biol.   208: 915-927.

Rogers, SM and Ott, SR (2015) Differential activation of serotonergic neurons during short- and long-term gregarization of desert locusts. Proc Royal Soc B.  282 Article Number: UNSP 20142062   


Is available for research costs.