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Ronald R. Hoy

Neurobiology and Behavior
Cornell University
W215 Seeley G. Mudd Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853 USA 
Phone - Office: (607) 254-4318
Phone - Lab: (607) 254-4317
Fax: (607) 254-1303
Web Page:

Research Interests

Continuation of studies on the neuroethology of acoustic communication in insects. This includes a study of the biophysics and neurophysiology of hearing, as well as an analysis of the behavioral response to salient acoustic signals. In particular, we study the mate calls, rivalry calls, and courtship calls that are produced by crickets and katydids. In addition, we are investigating the anti-predator reactions made by crickets in response to ultrasonic biosonar signals of insectivorous bats--an acoustic startle reaction in insects. We have shown that acoustic startle in insects shares many behavioral parallels with acoustic startle in mammals, including behavioral plasticity, such as habituation, sensitization, and the like. We are also investigating novel mechanisms of directional sensitivity that are a characteristic of some insectan hearing organs. In particular, we are investigating the tympanal hearing organ of parasitoid tachinid flies, which parasitize crickets and locate them by homing in on the cricket's mating calls. In collaboration with Dr. Ron Miles, at Binghamton University, we have developed a engineering model of the fly's ear that we hope to "biomimic" into a directionally-sensitive, minuscule microphone, which could be inserted into a hearing aid, thus conferring directional sensitivity to hearing aids, which is at present a shortcoming of hearing prosthesis.

We are also investigating the visual system of various species of flies, in particular those that also use hearing to direct their flight course ("steering"). We are interested in the interaction between visually guided steering and acoustically guided steering, with the aim of investigating how multimodal sensory information is processed by common motor pathways in the CNS. This is a "hot" topic in mammalian neurobiology and we feel that insights gained from insect systems will provide "models" of information processing that will be applicable to the more complex systems of mammals.

Recent Publications

Adamo, S.A. and R.R. Hoy. 1994. Mating behavior of the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus and its dependence on social and environmental cues. Anim. Behav. 47:857-868.

Buschbeck, E.K. and R.R. Hoy 1998. Visual system of the stalk-eyed fly, Cyrtodiopsis quinqueguttata (Diopsidae, Diptera: An anatomical investigation of unusual eyes. Journal of Neurobiology 37:449-468.

Farris , H.E. and R.R. Hoy 1998. Two-tone suppression of the ultrasound induced startle response in a cricket. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 103:2826-2827.

Farris, H.E., T.G. Forrest, and R.R. Hoy 1998. The effect of ultrasound on the attractiveness of acoustic mating signals. Physiological Entomology 23:322-328.

Buschbeck, E., B. Ehmer, and R.R. Hoy 1999. Chunk versus point sampling: Visual imaging in a small insect. Science 286:1178-1180.

Courses Taught

Introduction to Neurobiology; Bioacoustic Signals in Animals and Man (w/ Christopher Clark)