Target motion tracking in the presence of a stationary distracter

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Hanging bats

    With Dr. Murat Aytekin I have worked on target motion tracking studies, in which big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) were trained to sit on a platform and ensonify approaching mealworm targets. The target was attached to a string that hung from the cable of a four-pulley system. The cable was attached to a motorized car on a rail, the position of which was recorded by an optical sensor.

    platform

    Once a bat reliably sat on the platform and vocalized as the target approached, we introduced a stationary distracter object at one of two distances, and one of four angular offsets relative to the target motion axis. Our results indicate that the bats adjusted their call durations to the nearest object, but that they did not change their pulse interval patterns when the distracter object was introduced. We infer that the bats can therefore still track the movement of the approaching target even when the target is positioned behind the distracter. A manuscript of this work is currently being submitted to the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA). Currently I am conducting a follow-up study to investigate whether two distracter objects flanking the path of the target induce similar changes in the batsí vocalizations.