Behavioral experiments with crickets show that female crickets respond to male calling songs with syllable rates within a certain bandwidth only. We have made a robot model in which we implement a simple neural controller that is less complex than the controllers traditionally hypothesized for cricket phonotaxis and syllable rate preference. The simple controller, which had been successfully used with a slowed and simplified signal, is here demonstrated to function, using songs with identical parameters to those found in real male cricket song, using an analog electronic model of the peripheral auditory morphology of the female cricket as the sensor. We put the robot under the same experimental conditions as the female crickets, and it responds with phonotaxis to calling songs of real male Gryllus bimaculatus. Further, the robot only responds to songs with syllable rates within a bandwidth similar to the bandwidth found for crickets. By making polar plots of the heading direction of the robot, we obtain behavioral data that can be used in statistical analyses. These analyses show that there are statistically significant differences between the behavioral responses to calling songs with syllable rates within the bandwidth and calling songs with syllable rates outside the bandwidth. This gives the verification that the simple neural control mechanism (together with morphological auditory matched filtering) can account for the syllable rate preference found in female crickets. With our robot system, we can now systematically explore the mechanisms controlling recognition and choice behavior in the female cricket by experimental replication.
The first author provided the extended neural model, made the experiments and analysis described in the article, and wrote Sections 3, 4, 5, 6 and parts of 2 and 7. The second author provided the original hypotheses and wrote Sections 1, parts of 2, and 7. The third author designed the auditory circuit.