By examining the mechanical properties of the tympanum of the noctuid moth, Noctua pronuba, Windmill et al. (2006) suggested that this insect increases (up-tunes) the frequencies of its best hearing when exposed to high intensity sounds (HIS) resembling the echolocation calls of attacking bats. We tested whether this biophysical phenomenon was encoded in the neural responses of this moth's most sensitive auditory receptor (A1 cell) before and after exposure to HIS. We measured: (1) the number of A1 action potentials (spikes) per stimulus pulse; (2) the proportion of A1 spike periods below that determined to elicit evasive flight maneuvers and, (3) the change in A1 cell firing (spike number, interspike interval, stimulus/spike latency) over a duration of time similar to that in which up-tuning lasts. We observed no significant spiking response changes in the predicted direction to any of the frequencies tested following exposure to HIS and we observed only two of the 24 predicted time-dependent changes to A1 firing. These results indicate that tympanal up-tuning does not result in a change to this moth's auditory frequency sensitivity and we suggest either sensillar resonances or increases in thoracic muscle tension following exposure to HIS as alternative explanations.

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Keywords Auditory encoding, Bats, Moths, Neuroethology, Sensory ecology
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Journal Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Asi, N.S. (Navdeep S.), Fullard, J.H. (James Howard), Whitehead, S. (Scott), & Dawson, J.W. (2009). No neural evidence for dynamic auditory tuning of the A1 receptor in the ear of the noctuid moth, Noctua pronuba. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 195(10), 955–960. doi:10.1007/s00359-009-0471-2