Directional hearing in a silicon cricket
van Schaik, André
Phonotaxis is the ability to orient towards or away from sound sources. Crickets can locate conspecifics by phonotaxis to the calling (mating) song they produce, and can evade bats by negative phonotaxis from echolocation calls. The behaviour and underlying physiology have been studied in some depth, and the auditory system solves this complex problem in a unique manner. Experiments conducted on a simulation model of the system indicated that the mechanism output a directional signal to sounds ahead at calling song frequency and to sounds behind at echolocation frequencies. We suggest that this combination of responses helps simplify later processing in the cricket. To further explore this result, an analogue, very large scale integrated (aVLSI) circuit model of the mechanism was designed and built; results from testing this agreed with the simulation. The aVLSI circuit was used to test a further hypothesis about the potential advantages of the positioning of the acoustic inputs for sound localisation during walking. There was no clear advantage to the directionality of the system in their location. The aVLSI circuitry is now being extended to use on a robot along with previously modelled neural circuitry to better understand the complete sensorimotor pathway.