Physical mechanisms involved in directional hearing are investigated in two species of short-horned grasshoppers that differ in body length by a factor of 3­4. The directional cues (the effects of the direction of sound incidence on the amplitude and phase angle of the sounds at the ears) are more pronounced in the larger animal, but the scaling is not simple. At high frequencies (10­20 kHz), the sound pressures at the ears of the larger species (Schistocerca gregaria) differ sufficiently to provide a useful directionality. In contrast, at low frequencies (3­5 kHz), the ears must be acoustically coupled and work as pressure difference receivers. At 3­5 kHz, the interaural sound transmission is approximately 0.5 (that is, when a tympanum is driven by a sound pressure of unit amplitude at its outer surface, the tympanum of the opposite ear receives a sound pressure with an amplitude of 0.5 through the interaural pathway). The interaural transmission decreases with frequency, and above 10 kHz it is only 0.1­0.2. It still has a significant effect on the directionality, however, because the directional cues are large. In the smaller species (Chorthippus biguttulus), the interaural sound transmission is also around 0.5 at 5 kHz, but the directionality is poor. The reason for this is not the modest directional cues, but rather the fact that the transmitted sound is not sufficiently delayed for the ear to exploit the directional cues. Above 7 kHz, the transmission increases to approximately 0.8 and the transmission delay increases; this allows the ear to become more directional, despite the still modest directional cues.
Directional sound processing and interaural sound transmission in a small and a large grasshopper
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A Michelsen, K Rohrseitz; Directional sound processing and interaural sound transmission in a small and a large grasshopper. J Exp Biol 1 September 1995; 198 (9): 1817–1827. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.198.9.1817
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