242 — Dynamic representation of 3D auditory space in the midbrain of the free-flying echolocating bat
I read previously about Cynthia Moss’s group at Johns Hopkins, and the incredible work they’re doing on free-flying bat 3D spatial representation (#233). When I heard Dr. Moss speak at the BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting, she mentioned that this paper was going to be released that same day.
This paper makes the groundbreaking discovery that sensory neurons in the superior colliculus (SC) of the brown bat — and remember that here, motor and sensory neurons are intermingled — encode egocentric 3D space during flight, based upon signals received from echolocation.
In order to study this, Kothari et al had to build tiny wireless sensing devices for the bats to wear as they flew around the microphone-wired room.
Previous work has been limited to 2D stimuli — with the exception of the paper I link above — and so it has been difficult to understand the mechanism for encoding 3D movement and location through echolocation.
The authors note that this work is useful both for the fundamental hardware developments that enabled free-moving animal single-neuron recording, but also for the information that it sheds on 3D navigation and signal encoding.