Active listening in a complex environment

Melville Wohlgemuth, Cynthia Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Spatially-guided behaviors in echolocating bats depend upon the dynamic interplay between auditory information processing and adaptive motor control. The bat produces ultrasonic signals and uses information contained in the returning echoes to determine the direction and distance of objects in space. With this acoustic information, the echolocating bat builds a 3-D auditory representation of the world, which it uses to guide a suite of coordinated motor behaviors, including head and pinna movements, as well as the timing, duration, frequency characteristics and directionality of sonar signals. Adaptive echolocation behaviors shape the acoustic information available to the bat's sonar imaging system and provide a window to its perception of complex scenes. In a complex environment, an echolocating bat encounters multiple reflecting surfaces that return a cascade of echoes from each sonar transmission. The work presented here will focus on adaptive echolocation behaviors of the big brown bat as it tracks a selected prey item in the presence of multiple objects, both obstacles and other prey. Data suggest that bats can successfully segregate streams of echoes from closely spaced objects through finely tuned adaptive sonar signal control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number010030
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: Jun 2 2013Jun 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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