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J Acoust Soc Am. 2014 May;135(5):3077-85.

Spatial release from simultaneous echo masking in bat sonar.


Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) use biosonar to navigate and locate objects in their surroundings. During natural foraging, they often encounter echoes returned by a target of interest located to the front while other, often stronger, clutter echoes are returned from objects, such as vegetation, located to the sides or above. Nevertheless, bats behave as if they do not suffer interference from this clutter. Using a two-choice delay discrimination procedure, bats were tested for the masking effectiveness of clutter echoes on target echoes when the target echoes were delivered from the bat's front while clutter echoes were delivered from 90° overhead, a direction of lowpass filtering by the external ears. When clutter echoes are presented from the front at the same delay as target echoes, detection performance declines and clutter masking occurs. When the clutter echoes are presented at the same delay but from overhead, discrimination performance is unaffected and no masking occurs. Thus there is masking release for simultaneous off-axis lowpass clutter compared to masking by simultaneous clutter from the front. The bat's performance for simultaneous target and clutter echoes indicates a new role for the mechanism that separates overlapping echoes by decomposing the bat's auditory time-frequency representation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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