MEMRI for visualizing brain activity after auditory stimulation in frogs.

Anuran amphibians are common model organisms in bioacoustics and neurobiology. To date, however, most available methods for studying auditory processing in frogs are highly invasive and thus do not allow for longitudinal study designs, nor do they provide a global view of the brain, which substantially limits the questions that can be addressed. The goal of this study was to identify areas in the frog brain that are responsible for auditory processing using in vivo manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI). We were interested in determining if the neural processing of socially relevant acoustic stimuli (e.g., species-specific calls) engages a specific pattern of brain activation that differs from patterns elicited by less- or nonrelevant acoustic signals. We thus designed an experiment, in which we presented three different types of acoustic stimuli (species-specific calls, band-limited noise, or silence) to fully awake northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) and then conducted MEMRI T1-weighted imaging to investigate differences in signal intensity due to manganese uptake as an indication of brain activity across all three conditions. We found the greatest change in signal intensity within the torus semicircularis (the principal central auditory region), the habenula, and the paraphysis of frogs that had been exposed to conspecific calls compared with noise or silence conditions. Stimulation with noise did not result in the same activation patterns, indicating that signals with contrasting social relevance are differentially processed in these areas of the amphibian brain. MEMRI provides a powerful approach to studying brain activity with high spatial resolution in frogs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)