Walter Metzner


phone:  (310) 206-2023

fax:  (310) 825-3679

office:  4365 LS

research interests:  Sensory processing/motor control, especially auditory feedback control of vocalization; Behavioral Neuroscience (Neuroethology)

Research Interests

We aim at understanding how the central nervous system transforms sensory signals into motor commands that control adaptive behavior. Specific topics include a) Mechanisms of auditory feedback control of mammalian vocalization. Although hearing one's own voice is essential for the production of correct vocalization patterns in many birds and mammals, including humans, neuronal substrates and mechanisms for auditory feedback control of vocalizations are still largely unknown in any vertebrate. We study how hearing affects voice in echolocating horseshoe bats. These bats accurately control the frequency of their echolocation calls through auditory feedback, which becomes especially apparent when they are flying and compensating for frequency shifts in the echo signal that are caused by Doppler-effects. Similar to visual fixation, where eye movements keep an image of interest centered on the visual fovea, this "Doppler-shift compensation behavior" in horseshoe bats ensures that the echo of interest remains within a so called "auditory fovea". b) Electrosensory processing and synaptic modulation of a neuronal oscillator: My research in weakly electric gymnotiform fish concentrates on the segregation of behaviors on both the sensory and motor side of the central nervous system. This includes studying the synaptic modulation of one of the most precise neuronal oscillators, the pacemaker nucleus, as well as determining the behavioral significance of multiple sensory and premotor pathways.

Selected Publications

Li, Y., Wang, J., Metzner, W., Luo, B., Jiang, T., Yang, S., Shi, L., Huang, X., Yue, X., and Feng, J., "Behavioral responses to echolocation calls from sympatric heterospecific bats: implications for interspecific competition", Behav Ecol Sociobiol, (2014) .

Hage, S.R. and Metzner, W., "Potential effects of anthropogenic noise on echolocation behavior in horseshoe bats", Commun Integr Biol, 6 : e24753- (2013) [link].

Liu, Y., Feng, J., and Metzner, W., "Different auditory feedback control for echolocation and communication in horseshoe bats", PLoS ONE, 8 (4): e62710- (2013) .

Hage, S., Jiang, T., Berquist, S., Feng, J., Metzner, W., "Ambient noise induces independent shifts in call frequency and amplitude within the Lombard effect in echolocating bats", Proc Nat Acad Sci USA (PNAS), 110 : 4063-4068 (2013) .

Liu, Y., Metzner, W., and Feng, J., "Vocalization during copulation behavior in greater horseshoe bats, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum", Chinese Science Bulletin, (2013) .

Metzner, W. and Schuller, G., "Vocal control in echolocating bats", In: Handbook of Mammalian Vocalization, Brudzynski SM(Eds.), 403-415 (2010) .

Smotherman, M., Schwartz, C., and Metzner, W., "Vocal-respiratory interactions in the parabrachial nucleus", In: Handbook of Mammalian Vocalization, Brudzynski, S.M.(Eds.), 383-392 (2010) .

Jiang, T., Metzner, W., You, Y., Liu, S., Lu, G., Li, S., Wang, L., and Feng, J., "Variation in the resting frequency of Rhinolophus pusillus in Mainland China: effect of climate and implications for conservation", J Acoust Soc Am, 128 : 2204-2211 (2010) .

Ma, J., Jones, G., Zhu, G.J., and Metzner, W., "Echolocation behaviours of the Japanese pipistrelle bat Pipistrellus abramus during foraging flight", Acta Theriologica, 55 : 315-332 (2010) .

Wang, J., Metzner, W., Zhum X., Wang, X.H., and Feng, J., "Response to seasonal change of insect resources in Changbai Mountain temperate forests by Greater Horseshoe bats", Chin Science Bull, 55 : 2410-2415 (2010) .