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J Comp Physiol A. 1992 Dec;171(5):563-71.

Common principle of guidance by echolocation and vision.

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Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


1. Using echolocation, bats move as gracefully as birds through the cluttered environment, suggesting common principles of optic and acoustic guidance. We tested the idea by analysing braking control of bats (Macroderma gigas) flying through a narrow aperture with eyes covered and uncovered. 2. Though braking control would seem to require rapid detection of distance and velocity and computation of deceleration, simpler control is possible using the tau function of any sensory variable S that is a power function of distance to aperture. Tau function of S is tau (S) = S/S (the dot means time derivative). Controlled braking is achievable by keeping tau (S) constant. 3. Previous experiments indicated the tau (S) constant procedure is followed by humans and birds in visually controlling braking. Analysis of the bats' flight trajectories indicated they too followed the braking procedure using echolocation. 4. The tau function of echo-delay or of echo-intensity or of angle subtended by directions of echoes from two points on the approach surface could be used to control braking. Aperture size was modulated during flight on some trials in an attempt to test between these possibilities, but the results were inconclusive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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