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Schuller, Gerd (1984): Natural ultrasonic echoes from wing beating insects are encoded by collicular neurons in the CF-FM bat, Rhinolophus f errumequinum. In: Journal of Comparative Physiology A, Vol. 155, Nr. 1: S. 121-128




1. Acoustic reflections from a wing beating moth to an 80 kHz ultrasonic signal were recorded from six different incident angles and analyzed in spectral and time domains. The recorded echoes as well as independent components of amplitude and frequency modulations of the echoes were employed as acoustic stimuli during single unit studies. 2. The responses of single inferior colliculus neurons to these stimuli were recorded from four horseshoe bats,Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, a species which uses a long constant frequency (CF) sound with a final frequency modulated (FM) sweep during echolocation. All neurons responding to wing beat echoes reliably encoded the fundamental wing beat frequency as well as the more refined frequency and amplitude modulations. 3. These neurons may provide the bat a neural mechanism to detect periodically moving targets against a cluttered background and also to discriminate various insect species on the basis of their wing beat patterns.