Active head rolls enhance sonar-based auditory localization performance

Lakshitha P. Wijesinghe, Melville J. Wohlgemuth, Richard H.Y. So, Jochen Triesch, Cynthia F. Moss, Bertram E. Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Animals utilize a variety of active sensing mechanisms to perceive the world around them. Echolocating bats are an excellent model for the study of active auditory localization. The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), for instance, employs active head roll movements during sonar prey tracking. The function of head rolls in sound source localization is not well understood. Here, we propose an echolocation model with multi-axis head rotation to investigate the effect of active head roll movements on sound localization performance. The model autonomously learns to align the bat’s head direction towards the target. We show that a model with active head roll movements better localizes targets than a model without head rolls. Furthermore, we demonstrate that active head rolls also reduce the time required for localization in elevation. Finally, our model offers key insights to sound localization cues used by echolocating bats employing active head movements during echolocation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1008973
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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