Bats’ brains, new study

This video from the USA says about itself:

Bat Biology 101

3 July 2013

Bat biologist Dr. DeeAnn Reeder gives a quick lesson on bat physiology and anatomy.

From Wildlife Extra:

New study gets inside the brains of bats

A groundbreaking new study at Technische Universität München in Germany has found that there’s more to bats’ use of echolocation that meets the eye (or ear).

The study set out to investigate spatial orientation in bats, and reveals for the first time that spatial maps representing different echo delays in the brains of bats adapts to external factors.

Of course the use of echolocation in bats is nothing new. It has long been known that bats measure the delay of their echoes in order to navigate and hunt prey, but just what goes on in their brains to enable them to map their surroundings so efficiently has been unclear.

The study – run by Dr. Uwe Firzlaff – reveals that when a bat flies too close to an object, the number of activated neurons in its brain increases, resulting in the object appearing disproportionately larger on the bat’s brain map than objects at a safe distance, as if it were magnified.

“The map is similar to the navigation systems used in cars in that it shows bats the terrain in which they are moving,” Firzlaff explains. “The major difference, however, is that the bats’ inbuilt system warns them of an impending collision by enhancing neuronal signals for objects that are in close proximity.”

In essence, bats in flight are constantly evaluating their movement and mapping it against their distance to objects. “Our research has led us to conclude that bats display much more spatial information on their acoustic maps than just echo reflection,” says Firzlaff. “We may have just uncovered one of the fundamental mechanisms that enables vertebrates to adapt flexibly to continuously changing environments,” he concludes.

See also here.

The new research was published here.

8 thoughts on “Bats’ brains, new study

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