Mechanical filtering for narrow-band hearing in the weta

Lomas, Kathryn and Montealegre-Z, Fernando and Parsons, Stuart and Field, Larry H. and Robert, Daniel (2011) Mechanical filtering for narrow-band hearing in the weta. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214 (5). pp. 778-785. ISSN 0022-0949

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.050187

Abstract

This paper constitutes a major attempt to associate tympanic deflections with the mechanoreceptor organ location in an acoustic insect. The New Zealand tree weta (Hemideina thoracica) has tympanal ears located on each of the prothoracic tibiae. The tympana exhibit a sclerotized oval plate, membranous processes bulging out from the tibial cuticle and many loosely suspended ripples. We used microscanning laser Doppler vibrometry to determine how such a tympanal membrane vibrates in response to sound and whether the sclerotized region plays a role in hearing. The tympanum displays a single resonance at the calling frequency of the male, an unusual example of an insect tympana acting as a narrow bandpass filter. Both tympana resonate in phase with the stimulus and with each other. Histological sections show that the tympanal area is divided into two distinct regions, as in other ensiferans. An oval plate lies in the middle of a thickened region and is surrounded by a transparent and uniformly thin region. It is hinged dorsally to the tympanal rim and thus resembles the model of a ‘hinged flap’. The thickened region appears to act as a damping mass on the oscillation of the thin region, and vibration displacement is reduced in this area. The thinner area vibrates with higher amplitude, inducing mechanical pressure on the dorsal area adjacent to the crista acustica. We present a new model showing how the thickened region might confer a mechanical gain onto the activation of the crista acustica sensory neurons during the sound-induced oscillations.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This paper constitutes a major attempt to associate tympanic deflections with the mechanoreceptor organ location in an acoustic insect. The New Zealand tree weta (Hemideina thoracica) has tympanal ears located on each of the prothoracic tibiae. The tympana exhibit a sclerotized oval plate, membranous processes bulging out from the tibial cuticle and many loosely suspended ripples. We used microscanning laser Doppler vibrometry to determine how such a tympanal membrane vibrates in response to sound and whether the sclerotized region plays a role in hearing. The tympanum displays a single resonance at the calling frequency of the male, an unusual example of an insect tympana acting as a narrow bandpass filter. Both tympana resonate in phase with the stimulus and with each other. Histological sections show that the tympanal area is divided into two distinct regions, as in other ensiferans. An oval plate lies in the middle of a thickened region and is surrounded by a transparent and uniformly thin region. It is hinged dorsally to the tympanal rim and thus resembles the model of a ‘hinged flap’. The thickened region appears to act as a damping mass on the oscillation of the thin region, and vibration displacement is reduced in this area. The thinner area vibrates with higher amplitude, inducing mechanical pressure on the dorsal area adjacent to the crista acustica. We present a new model showing how the thickened region might confer a mechanical gain onto the activation of the crista acustica sensory neurons during the sound-induced oscillations.
Keywords:weta, laser vibrometry, ensiferan ear, tympanum vibration, mechanical tuning
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C790 Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry not elsewhere classified
H Engineering > H143 Structural Mechanics
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:6265
Deposited By: Fernando Montealegre-Z
Deposited On:03 Oct 2012 14:57
Last Modified:04 Dec 2013 15:16

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