Neural Attenuation of Responses to Emitted Sounds in Echolocating Bats

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Science  07 Jul 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4043, pp. 82-84
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4043.82


Bats of the family Vespertilionidae enmit strong ultrasonic pulses for echolocation. If such sounds directly stimulate their ears, the detection of echoes from short distances would be impaired. The responses of lateral lemniscal neurons to emitted sounds were found to be much smaller than those to playback sounds, even when the response of the auditory nerve was the same to both types of sounds. Thus, responses to self-vocalized sounds were attenuated between the cochlear nerve and the inferior colliculus. The mean attenuation was 25 decibels. This neural attenuating mechanism is probably a part of the mechanisms for effective echo detection.