Biomechanical and Neurophysiological Studies on Audition in Eared and Earless Harlequin Frogs (Atelopus)
Tissue displacement of various body surfaces and the auditory midbrain sensitivities to sound were measured in Atelopus species with or without a tympanic middle ear ('eared' and 'earless', respectively). Tissue displacement (vibration) of body regions was measured by laser Doppler vibrometer. The body wall directly overlying the lung is most dramatically displaced by sound pressure in all species tested. The otic (lateral head) region showed low displacement in earless species, but significant displacement to high-frequency sound in eared species. Peak tissue displacement of the body wall occurred within the frequency range of each species' advertisement vocalization. Peak tissue displacement of the otic region of the eared species also occurred within these frequencies. Multi-unit neurophysiological recordings of the auditory midbrain (torus semicircularis) also were obtained. Auditory sensitivity curves showed three distinct regions of sensitivity at low, middle, and high frequencies, the latter located within the frequency range of each species' advertisement vocalization. The correlation between auditory midbrain sensitivity and tissue displacement of the body wall region at advertisement vocalization frequencies, suggests that the body wall/lungs serve as the route of sound transfer to the inner ear in earless species and possibly in the eared species as well.
Lindquist, Erik D.; Hetherington, T. E.; and Volman, S. F., "Biomechanical and Neurophysiological Studies on Audition in Eared and Earless Harlequin Frogs (Atelopus)" (1998). Biology Educator Scholarship. 52.