Neural maps for target range in the auditory cortex of echolocating bats

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Feb;24(1):68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.08.016. Epub 2013 Sep 17.


Computational brain maps as opposed to maps of receptor surfaces strongly reflect functional neuronal design principles. In echolocating bats, computational maps are established that topographically represent the distance of objects. These target range maps are derived from the temporal delay between emitted call and returning echo and constitute a regular representation of time (chronotopy). Basic features of these maps are innate, and in different bat species the map size and precision varies. An inherent advantage of target range maps is the implementation of mechanisms for lateral inhibition and excitatory feedback. Both can help to focus target ranging depending on the actual echolocation situation. However, these maps are not absolutely necessary for bat echolocation since there are bat species without cortical target-distance maps, which use alternative ensemble computation mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Chiroptera / anatomy & histology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology