Acuity in ranging based on delay-tuned combination-sensitive neurons in the auditory cortex of mustached bats

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A 1.0-ms echo delay from an emitted bio-sonar pulse at 25 °C corresponds to a 17.3-cm target distance. In the auditory cortex of the mustached bat, Pteronotus parnellii, neurons tuned to a specific delay (best delay) of an echo from an emitted pulse are clustered in the FF, dorsal fringe and ventral fringe areas. (“FF” stands for the frequency-modulated components of a pulse and its echo.) Those delay-tuned neurons are systematically arranged in the FF area according to their best delays and form a 18-ms-long delay axis. Using the neurophysiological data, the theoretical acuity at a 75% correct level was computed as just-noticeable changes in (a) the location of maximally responding delay-tuned neurons, (b) the location of the center of all responses in the FF area, and (c) the weighted sum of responses of all delay-tuned neurons. The acuity is range-dependent: the shorter the target range, the higher the acuity is. The just-noticeable changes in target range are 7.57–46.2, 0.50–2.32 and 0.22–2.53 mm at the target ranges of up to 140 cm for (a), (b) and (c), respectively. When the dorsal and ventral fringe areas are included in the computation, the just-noticeable changes become smaller than those in the FF area alone. Those acuities computed are comparable to certain behavioral acuities.

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