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1.  Specialization for underwater hearing by the tympanic middle ear of the turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans 
Turtles, like other amphibious animals, face a trade-off between terrestrial and aquatic hearing. We used laser vibrometry and auditory brainstem responses to measure their sensitivity to vibration stimuli and to airborne versus underwater sound. Turtles are most sensitive to sound underwater, and their sensitivity depends on the large middle ear, which has a compliant tympanic disc attached to the columella. Behind the disc, the middle ear is a large air-filled cavity with a volume of approximately 0.5 ml and a resonance frequency of approximately 500 Hz underwater. Laser vibrometry measurements underwater showed peak vibrations at 500–600 Hz with a maximum of 300 µm s−1 Pa−1, approximately 100 times more than the surrounding water. In air, the auditory brainstem response audiogram showed a best sensitivity to sound of 300–500 Hz. Audiograms before and after removing the skin covering reveal that the cartilaginous tympanic disc shows unchanged sensitivity, indicating that the tympanic disc, and not the overlying skin, is the key sound receiver. If air and water thresholds are compared in terms of sound intensity, thresholds in water are approximately 20–30 dB lower than in air. Therefore, this tympanic ear is specialized for underwater hearing, most probably because sound-induced pulsations of the air in the middle ear cavity drive the tympanic disc.
PMCID: PMC3367789  PMID: 22438494
underwater sound; evolution; cochlea; auditory brainstem response
2.  γ-Aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter in the auditory pathway of oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau 
Hearing research  2010;262(1-2):45-55.
Binaural computations involving the convergence of excitatory and inhibitory inputs have been proposed to explain directional sharpening and frequency tuning documented in the brainstem of a teleost fish, the oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau). To assess the presence of inhibitory neurons in the ascending auditory circuit, we used a monoclonal antibody to GABA to evaluate immunoreactivity at three levels of the circuit: the first order descending octaval nucleus (DON), the secondary octaval population (dorsal division), and the midbrain torus semicircularis. We observed a subset of immunoreactive (IR) cells and puncta distributed throughout the neuropil at all three locations. To assess whether contralateral inhibition is present, fluorescent dextran crystals were inserted into dorsal DON to fill contralateral, commissural inputs retrogradely prior to GABA immunohistochemistry. GABA-IR somata and puncta co-occurred with retrogradely filled, GABA-negative auditory projection cells. GABA-IR projection cells were more common in the dorsolateral DON than in the dorsomedial DON, but GABA-IR puncta were common in both dosolateral and dorsomedial divisions. Our findings demonstrate that GABA is present in the ascending auditory circuit in the brainstem of the toadfish, indicating that GABA-mediated inhibition participates in shaping auditory response characteristics in a teleost fish as in other vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC2878777  PMID: 20097279
auditory processing; descending octaval nucleus; inhibition; directional hearing; secondary octaval nucleus

Results 1-2 (2)