Tympanic membrane oscillations and auditory receptor activity in the stridulating cricket Gryllus bimaculatus


  • J.F.A. Poulet
  • B. Hedwig


  • Journal of Experimental Biology


  • J Exp Biol 204 (Pt 7): 1281-1293


  • The ears of stridulating crickets are exposed to loud self-generated sounds that might desensitise the auditory system and reduce its responsiveness to environmental sounds. We examined whether crickets prevent self-induced auditory desensitisation, and measured the responsiveness of the peripheral auditory system of the cricket (acoustic spiracle, tympanic membrane and tympanic nerve) during pharmacologically induced sonorous (two-winged) and silent (one-winged) stridulation. The acoustic spiracles remained open during stridulation, so the self-generated auditory signal had full access to both the external side and the internal side of the tympanic membrane. When the spiracles shut in resting crickets, the responsiveness of the tympanic membrane to acoustic stimuli varied according to the phase of ventilation and was minimal during expiration. The tympanic membrane oscillated in phase with the self-generated sounds during sonorous chirps and did not oscillate during silent chirps. In both sonorously and silently singing crickets, the responses of the tympanic membrane to acoustic stimuli were identical during the chirps and the chirp intervals. Bursts of activity were recorded in the tympanic nerve during sonorous chirps; however, activity was minor during silent chirps. In sonorously and in silently singing crickets, the summed nerve response to acoustic stimuli in the chirp intervals was the same as in resting crickets. The response to stimuli presented during the syllable intervals of sonorous chirps was slightly reduced compared with the response in the chirp intervals as a consequence of receptor habituation. In silently singing crickets, acoustic stimuli elicited the same summed nerve response during chirps and chirp intervals. These data indicate that in the cricket no specific mechanism acts to reduce the responsiveness of the peripheral auditory pathway during stridulation.