Fly hearing works much like a human’s hearing does. The fly’s eardrums beat out of phase when a sound comes its way, causing the near ear to respond more strongly to the sound. This allows the fly’s brain to determine where the source of the sound is in as little as 10 microseconds.
The organs that produce sound are called tympanal membranes, which are located in the antennae. The organs have similarities to the auditory organs in mammals, but the structure of the organs differ in flies. The second segment of the antenna contains sensory cells called scolopidia, which sense the vibration of the sound. These cells are located near the joint, and they are attached to the tip by cap cells. The cells secrete a dendritic cap.
Researchers at Princeton University found that the pitch and tempo of a male fruit fly mating song is influenced by the environment. This discovery may help us understand how flies’ neural circuits react to changes in their environment. It could also give researchers a tool to study how human brains process information.
Fly-inspired microphones could be used in smartphones and defense tracking, and could be used in hearing aids. They could improve sound directional detection by enabling users to hear sounds in their field of interest.