Perception of echo phase information in bat sonar

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Science  22 Jun 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4399, pp. 1336-1338
DOI: 10.1126/science.451543


Echolocating bats (Eptesicus fuscus) can detect changes as small as 500 nanoseconds in the arrival time of sonar echoes when these changes appear as jitter or alternations in arrival time from one echo to the next. The psychophysical function relating the bat's performance to the magnitude of the jitter corresponds to the half-wave rectified cross-correlation function between the emitted sonar signals and the echoes. The bat perceives the phase or period structure of the sounds, which cover the 25- to 100-kilohertz frequency range, as these are represented in the auditory system after peripheral transformation. The acoustic image of a sonar target is apparently derived from time-domain or periodicity information processing by the nervous system.

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