Bat auditory cortex – model for general mammalian auditory computation or special design solution for active time perception?

Eur J Neurosci. 2015 Mar;41(5):518-32. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12801.


Audition in bats serves passive orientation, alerting functions and communication as it does in other vertebrates. In addition, bats have evolved echolocation for orientation and prey detection and capture. This put a selective pressure on the auditory system in regard to echolocation-relevant temporal computation and frequency analysis. The present review attempts to evaluate in which respect the processing modules of bat auditory cortex (AC) are a model for typical mammalian AC function or are designed for echolocation-unique purposes. We conclude that, while cortical area arrangement and cortical frequency processing does not deviate greatly from that of other mammals, the echo delay time-sensitive dorsal cortex regions contain special designs for very powerful time perception. Different bat species have either a unique chronotopic cortex topography or a distributed salt-and-pepper representation of echo delay. The two designs seem to enable similar behavioural performance.

Keywords: chronotopy; echolocation; fovea; salt-and-pepper; target range.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Chiroptera
  • Connectome
  • Echolocation*
  • Time Perception*