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J Acoust Soc Am. 1998 Apr;103(4):2167-76.

Target flutter rate discrimination by bats using frequency-modulated sonar sounds: behavior and signal processing models.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


This study utilized psychophysical data and acoustical measurements of sonar echoes from artificial fluttering targets to develop insights to the information used by FM bats to discriminate the wingbeat rate of flying insects. Fluttering targets were produced by rotating blades that moved towards the bat, and the animal learned to discriminate between two rates of movement, a reference rate (30 or 50 Hz) and a slower, variable rate. Threshold discrimination performance depended on the rotation rate of the reference target, with a difference value of 9 Hz for the reference rate of 30 Hz and 14 Hz for the reference rate of 50 Hz. Control experiments demonstrated that the bats used sonar echoes from the moving targets to perform the discrimination task. Acoustical measurements showed that the moving target produced a Doppler shift in the echo and a concomitant change in the arrival time of each frequency in the linear period FM sweep. The difference in delay between echoes from moving and stationary parts varied linearly with flutter rate and depended on the characteristics of the bat's sonar sounds. Simulations also showed a reduction in average echo bandwidth with increasing flutter rate, which may account for a higher delay discrimination threshold using the 50-Hz reference rate. This work suggests that Doppler-induced changes in echo delays produced by fluttering targets may contribute to the FM bat's perception of flying insect prey.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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