Segregating signal from noise through movement in echolocating bats

Mor Taub, Yossi Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Segregating signal from noise is one of the most fundamental problems shared by all biological and human-engineered sensory systems. In echolocating bats that search for small objects such as tiny insects in the presence of large obstacles (e.g., vegetation), this task can pose serious challenges as the echoes reflected from the background might be several times louder than the desired signal. Bats’ ability to adjust their sensing, specifically their echolocation signal and sequence design has been deeply studied. In this study, we show that in addition to adjusting their sensing, bats also use movement in order to segregate desired echoes from background noise. Bats responded to an acoustically echoic background by adjusting their angle of attack. Specifically, the bats in our experiment used movement and not adaptation of sensory acquisition in order to overcome a sensory challenge. They approached the target at a smaller angle of attack, which results in weaker echoes from the background as was also confirmed by measuring the echoes of the setup from the bat’s point of view. Our study demonstrates the importance of movement in active sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number382
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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