The prefrontal cortex of the Mexican free-tailed bat is more selective to communication calls than primary auditory cortex. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, we examined the auditory responses of a prefrontal area, the frontal auditory field (FAF), of an echolocating bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) and presented a comparative analysis of the neuronal response properties between the FAF and the primary auditory cortex (A1). We compared single-unit responses from the A1 and the FAF elicited by pure tones, downward frequency-modulated sweeps (dFMs), and species-specific vocalizations. Unlike the A1, FAFs were not frequency tuned. However, progressive increases in dFM sweep rate elicited a systematic increase of response precision, a phenomenon that does not take place in the A1. Call selectivity was higher in the FAF versus A1. We calculated the neuronal spectrotemporal receptive fields (STRFs) and spike-triggered averages (STAs) to predict responses to the communication calls and provide an explanation for the differences in call selectivity between the FAF and A1. In the A1, we found a high correlation between predicted and evoked responses. However, we did not generate reasonable STRFs in the FAF, and the prediction based on the STAs showed lower correlation coefficient than that of the A1. This suggests nonlinear response properties in the FAF that are stronger than the linear response properties in the A1. Stimulating with a call sequence increased call selectivity in the A1, but it remained unchanged in the FAF. These data are consistent with a role for the FAF in assessing distinctive acoustic features downstream of A1, similar to the role proposed for primate ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In this study, we examined the neuronal responses of a frontal cortical area in an echolocating bat to behaviorally relevant acoustic stimuli and compared them with those in the primary auditory cortex (A1). In contrast to the A1, neurons in the bat frontal auditory field are not frequency tuned but showed a higher selectivity for social signals such as communication calls. The results presented here indicate that the frontal auditory field may represent an additional processing center for behaviorally relevant sounds.

published proceedings

  • J Neurophysiol

altmetric score

  • 5.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Macias, S., Bakshi, K., Troyer, T., & Smotherman, M.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • September 2022