Sound source localization and segregation with internally coupled ears: the treefrog model

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Acoustic signaling plays key roles in mediating many of the reproductive and social behaviors of anurans (frogs and toads). Moreover, acoustic signaling often occurs at night, in structurally complex habitats, such as densely vegetated ponds, and in dense breeding choruses characterized by high levels of background noise and acoustic clutter. Fundamental to anuran behavior is the ability of the auditory system to determine accurately the location from where sounds originate in space (sound source localization) and to assign specific sounds in the complex acoustic milieu of a chorus to their correct sources (sound source segregation). Here, we review anatomical, biophysical, neurophysiological, and behavioral studies aimed at identifying how the internally coupled ears of frogs contribute to sound source localization and segregation. Our review focuses on treefrogs in the genus Hyla, as they are the most thoroughly studied frogs in terms of sound source localization and segregation. They also represent promising model systems for future work aimed at understanding better how internally coupled ears contribute to sound source localization and segregation. We conclude our review by enumerating directions for future research on these animals that will require the collaborative efforts of biologists, physicists, and roboticists.

JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)271-290
StatePublished - Oct 2016