What determines the information update rate in echolocating bats

Mor Taub, Aya Goldshtein, Arjan Boonman, Ofri Eitan, Edward Hurme, Stefan Greif, Yossi Yovel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rate of sensory update is one of the most important parameters of any sensory system. The acquisition rate of most sensory systems is fixed and has been optimized by evolution to the needs of the animal. Echolocating bats have the ability to adjust their sensory update rate which is determined by the intervals between emissions - the inter-pulse intervals (IPI). The IPI is routinely adjusted, but the exact factors driving its regulation are unknown. We use on-board audio recordings to determine how four species of echolocating bats with different foraging strategies regulate their sensory update rate during commute flights. We reveal strong correlations between the IPI and various echolocation and movement parameters. Specifically, the update rate increases when the signals’ peak-energy frequency and intensity increases while the update rate decreases when flight speed and altitude increases. We suggest that bats control their information update rate according to the behavioral mode they are engaged in, while always maintaining sensory continuity. Specifically, we suggest that bats apply two modes of attention during commute flights. Our data moreover suggests that bats emit echolocation signals at accurate intervals without the need for external feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1187
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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