A tour through the bat brain: hearing and vocalization networks in an auditory specialist

by Dr. Julio Hechevarria, Auditory Computations Lab, Department for Neurobiology and Biosensors, Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main

will take place on Tuesday, November 22th, 2022 from 15:00 hours to 16:00 hours in CBBM, Ground Floor, Seminar Room Levi-Montalcini.

Host: Prof. Dr. Jonas Obleser
Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck

Abstract: Acoustic communication is of paramount importance for many animal species. Yet, at present, we know surprisingly little about the neural networks that participate in hearing and vocalization in species that rely heavily on sounds for everyday natural behaviors. In this talk, I will argue that bats represent a valuable animal model for studying the neural circuits underlying vocal production and hearing in mammals, within a neuroethology framework. I base this argument on findings from my group that describe brain rhythms (a.k.a. oscillations) in the bat cortex, very similar to those found in humans. I will show that, in listening bats, neural oscillations synchronize to spiking activity and predict the ability of individual neurons to track the temporal structure of sounds. In vocalizing bats, gamma and theta oscillations predict future vocalizations and enable dynamic functional connectivity in cortico-cortical and cortico-striatal networks. Taken together, the findings presented in this talk emphasize the value of studying the brain from a comparative perspective, going beyond classic laboratory models, and taking natural behaviors into account.