Conversations with bats: researchers suspect calls from these animals contain redundant information

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Research from the University of Cincinnati recently shared the results of a study, saying conversations with bats could be “light on the bottom.”

A ScienceDaily reports that the echoes of bats are quite simple: the sound files of their calls can be compressed to 90% without losing much information.

Specifically, the study shows how bats evolved to depend on the redundancy of their navigation “language” so that they could remain oriented in their multifaceted three-dimensional world.

According to Dieter Vanderelst, co-author of the study, if you can make decisions with little information, everything becomes easier.

“That’s good,” he added because there doesn’t need a lot of complicated neural machines to process and store this particular information.

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(Photo: Simon Berstecher on Pixabay)
A scientific report states that the echoes of bats are quite simple, and the sound file of their calls can be compressed to 90 percent without losing much information.

Bat calls containing redundant information

UC researchers said they suspected that bat calls contain redundant information and that bats could use effective coding tactics to extract the most important information from their echoes.

Many of the natural stimuli encountered by animals have a great deal of redundancy. In addition, efficient neural coding preserves important information while reducing this redundancy.

To test their hypothesis, the study authors developed their own “bat on a stick,” a device with a tripod mounted inside, which emits a sound pulse sweeping between 30 and 70 kilohertz, a range of frequencies used by many bats.

By comparison, human speech is typically between 125 and 300 kilohertz. Essentially, over 1,000 echoes were captured in distinctive indoor and outdoor environments such as in a barn, in rooms of various sizes, among tree branches and bushes, as well as in a garden.

Recorded echoes

In their conduct of the study, Efficient encoding of spectrotemporal information for bat echolocation, Posted in Computational Biology PLOS, the researchers converted the recorded echoes into a sound graph also known as a cochleogram, as explained in the National Library of Medicine.

They then subjected the graphics to 25 filters, compressing the data significantly. They had trained a neural network, a computer system demonstrated on the human brain, to find out whether the filtered graphics still contained adequate information to perform a number of sonar-based tasks known to be performed by bats.

As a result, the researchers found that the neural network correctly identified areas of the echoes even when the cochleogram was deleted up to 90% of its data.

According to Vanderelst, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UC, the results indicate that one can compress data while doing what needs to be done.

“Ultrasound calls”

It also means, added Vanderelst, that if one is a bat, he can do it effectively. Researchers can often deduce what these animals are doing just by listening to such calls.

Even if you don’t see the bat, you can say with a high level of certainty what a bat is doing, the assistant professor said.

If he calls more often, according to a EurêkAlert! signal that he is then looking for something. More so, if the calls are spread out, it is either cruising or studying something far removed.

Essentially, bats make their ultrasonic calls with a larynx, much like humans do. Such an impressive voice box that it can contract around 200 times per second, making it the fastest known muscle of all mammals.

Related information on the sounds and echoes of bats can be found on the justsoundfx YouTube video below:

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Find more bat news and information at Science Times.

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