The chirping of bats

bat flight

Neuroscientist and bat researcher Cynthia Moss came to talk at MIT this afternoon about how bats use direction, timing, and frequency in their sonar vocalizations to locate insect prey. Her presentation was (wonderfully) full of video, in which the picture and audio had been slowed down by about 16 times, so that we could better see and hear the bat activity.

I was astounded at how interesting these bat vocalizations are. Here I thought bats were like little submarines, just going, “beep… beep… beep…”, but they vary the frequency and pitch range of their chirps dramatically while tracking a target. I found links to some similar videos (short, longer) on Dr. Moss’s group website.

Strangely, this reminds me very much of Ed Boyden‘s “logarithmic time planning” on his Tech Review blog. Makes me think we are all little bats, chirping in our own way when the right bug comes along.

More info on this work can be found here:
Auditory Scene Analysis by Echolocation in Bats: Insect capture Studies & Aim of the Bat’s Sonar Beam

December 4, 2007. MIT, sound. No Comments.

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