The sensory world of animals is noisy, complex and dynamic. From a barrage of stimuli, animals must detect, sort, group and track biologically relevant signals to communicate with conspecifics, seek food, engage in courtship, avoid predators and navigate in space.
Successful foraging by echolocating bats requires multimodal integration of visual, auditory, and somatosensory (e.g., tactile, proprioceptive) information, which is then used to drive adaptive motor behaviors in a dynamic environment. Executing complex flight maneuvers requires rapid sensory integration to generate adaptive motor output. In bats, the only mammals capable of powered flight, wing hairs provide somatosensory information to guide motor behavior. However, peripheral inputs and outputs to flight-related sensorimotor circuitry have not been studied. The goal of this project is to elucidate the neuroanatomical basis and functional role of this specialized airflow-detecting sensory substrate for stable and maneuverable flight. This is a five-year grant.