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J Acoust Soc Am. 2015 Jan;137(1):42-52. doi: 10.1121/1.4904529.

Sound localization in common vampire bats: acuity and use of the binaural time cue by a small mammal.

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Department of Psychology #948, University of Toledo, 2801 West Bancroft Street, Toledo, Ohio 43606.


Passive sound-localization acuity and the ability to use binaural time and intensity cues were determined for the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus). The bats were tested using a conditioned suppression/avoidance procedure in which they drank defibrinated blood from a spout in the presence of sounds from their right, but stopped drinking (i.e., broke contact with the spout) whenever a sound came from their left, thereby avoiding a mild shock. The mean minimum audible angle for three bats for a 100-ms noise burst was 13.1°-within the range of thresholds for other bats and near the mean for mammals. Common vampire bats readily localized pure tones of 20 kHz and higher, indicating they could use interaural intensity-differences. They could also localize pure tones of 5 kHz and lower, thereby demonstrating the use of interaural time-differences, despite their very small maximum interaural distance of 60 μs. A comparison of the use of locus cues among mammals suggests several implications for the evolution of sound localization and its underlying anatomical and physiological mechanisms.

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