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Moss research uncovers bats' systematic 'active sensing' strategies

New research by Professor Cynthia Moss (Psychology/ISR) and her colleagues Yossi Yovel, Ben Falk and Nachum Ulanovsky was recently featured in a story in The New York Times.

Active Control of Acoustic Field-of-View in a Biosonar System appears in the Sept. 13 edition of PLoS Biology.

The research uncovered systematic “active-sensing” strategies used by echolocating bats to scan their environment. The researchers trained Egyptian fruit bats to land on a target, under conditions of varying levels of environmental complexity, and measured their echolocation and flight behavior. The bats modulated the intensity of their biosonar emissions, and the spatial region they sampled, in a task-dependant manner.

The bats selectively changed the emission intensity and the angle between the beam axes of sequentially emitted clicks, according to the distance to the target, and depending on the level of environmental complexity. In so doing, they effectively adjusted the spatial sector sampled by a pair of clicks—the “field-of-view.”

The results suggest that lingual echolocation (based on tongue clicks) is much more sophisticated than previously believed, and reveal a new parameter under active control in animal sonar—the angle between consecutive beams. The findings suggest that acoustic scanning of space by mammals is highly flexible and modulated much more selectively than previously recognized.

| Read the original article in PLoS Biology | Read The New York Times story at their web site |

Related Articles:
Oct. 9, 9 pm: Moss lab featured in National Geographic's "Brain Games"
Sterbing-D'Angelo interviewed by Forbes magazine
Bats' touch sensor cells enable precision flight
Alumna Kirsten Bohn's bat song research is Science cover story
Heavy media coverage for bat wing hair research findings
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Moss, Horiuchi receive $1.5 million NSF grant for complex settings research
Moss wins DURIP Award for bat fluttering flight control research
Moss's findings published in Science reveal bats' fundamental 'targeting' tradeoff
New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty

September 22, 2011


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