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Schema vs. primitive perceptual grouping: the relative weighting of sequential vs. spatial cues during an auditory grouping task in frogs A Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology

Farris, Hamilton E., Ryan, Michael J.
Journal of comparative physiology 2017 v.203 no.3 pp. 175-182
breeding, females, frogs, males, phonotaxis, variance
Perceptually, grouping sounds based on their sources is critical for communication. This is especially true in túngara frog breeding aggregations, where multiple males produce overlapping calls that consist of an FM ‘whine’ followed by harmonic bursts called ‘chucks’. Phonotactic females use at least two cues to group whines and chucks: whine-chuck spatial separation and sequence. Spatial separation is a primitive cue, whereas sequence is schema-based, as chuck production is morphologically constrained to follow whines, meaning that males cannot produce the components simultaneously. When one cue is available, females perceptually group whines and chucks using relative comparisons: components with the smallest spatial separation or those closest to the natural sequence are more likely grouped. By simultaneously varying the temporal sequence and spatial separation of a single whine and two chucks, this study measured between-cue perceptual weighting during a specific grouping task. Results show that whine-chuck spatial separation is a stronger grouping cue than temporal sequence, as grouping is more likely for stimuli with smaller spatial separation and non-natural sequence than those with larger spatial separation and natural sequence. Compared to the schema-based whine-chuck sequence, we propose that spatial cues have less variance, potentially explaining their preferred use when grouping during directional behavioral responses.