Frequency selectivity of hearing in the green treefrog, Hyla cinerea

Cynthia F. Moss, Andrea Megela Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Frequency selectivity of hearing was measured in the green treefrog, Hyla cinerea. A psychophysical technique based on reflex modification was used to obtain masked threshold estimates for pure tones (300-5,400 Hz) presented against two levels of broadband masking noise. A pure tone (S-1) presented 200 ms prior to a reflex-eliciting stimulus (S-2) inhibited the motor reflex response to S-2. The magnitude of this reflex modification effect varied systematically with the sound pressure level (SPL) of S-1, and threshold was defined as the SPL of S-1 at which the reflex modification effect disappeared. 2. Masked thresholds were used to calculate critical ratios, an index of the auditory system's frequency selectivity. The frequency selectivity of the treefrog's hearing is greatest and critical ratios are lowest (22-24 dB) at about 900 and 3,000 Hz, the two spectral regions dominant in the male treefrog's species-specific advertisement call. These results suggest that the treefrog's auditory system may be specialized to reject noise at biologically relevant frequencies. 3. As in other vertebrates, critical ratios remain constant when background noise level is varied; however, the shape of the treefrog's critical ratio function across frequencies differs from the typical vertebrate function that increases with increasing frequency at a slope of about 3 dB/octave. Instead, the treefrog's critical ratio function resembles its pure tone audiogram. Although the shape of the treefrog's critical ratio function is atypical, the critical ratio values themselves are comparable to those of many other vertebrates in the same frequency range. 4. Critical ratio values here measured behaviorally do not match critical ratio values previously measured physiologically in single eighth nerve fibers. This suggests that frequency selectivity of hearing in the green treefrog is mediated in the central, rather than the peripheral, auditory system and probably does not arise directly from the tuning of the individual auditory nerve fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-266
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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