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Journal of Experimental Biology partnership with Dryad

Mechanisms of frequency-specific responses of ω neuron 1 in crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus): a polysynaptic pathway for song?
Z. Faulkes, G.S. Pollack


In crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus), the auditory interneuron ω neuron 1 (ON1) responds to sounds over a wide range of frequencies but is most sensitive to the frequency of conspecific songs (4.5 kHz). Response latency is longest for this same frequency. We investigate the mechanisms that might account for the longer latency of ON1 to cricket-like sounds. Intracellular recordings revealed no evidence for appropriately timed postsynaptic inhibition of ON1 that might increase its latency, nor was latency affected by picrotoxin. The onset of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) was delayed for 4.5 kHz stimuli compared with ultrasound stimuli, pointing to a presynaptic locus for the latency difference. When ON1 is stimulated with high frequencies, discrete, apparently unitary EPSPs can be recorded in its dendrite, and these are latency-locked to spikes recorded simultaneously in the auditory nerve. This suggests that input to ON1 from high-frequency-tuned auditory receptor neurons is monosynaptic. In agreement with this, brief ultrasound stimuli evoke a single, short-latency EPSP in ON1. In contrast, the EPSP evoked by a brief 4.5 kHz stimulus consists of an early component, similar in latency to that evoked by ultrasound and possibly evoked by ultrasound-tuned receptors, and a later, dominant component. We interpret the early peak as arising from a monosynaptic afferent pathway and the late peak from a polysynaptic afferent pathway. Multiple-peak EPSPs, with timing similar to those evoked by sound stimuli, were also evoked by electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve.