What is the homologue to bat echolocation cerebral function?
September 30, 2019 4:48 AM   Subscribe

If you look at the brains of rats, cats, and humans, you can for example see that there is a biological substrate for the processing of vision; it varies in size, and a little in relative location, but what is present in one species is present in the other and has more or less the same structure and function. Are there homologues for the parts of bat brains that handle echolocation?

In other words, if you look at say a cat brain and a bat brain, can you find the homologue for echolocation in the cat brain? Is the cognitive architecture of the bat brain just an exaptation of general auditor processing in mammals? Can you indicate any journal articles on the subject? Thank you!
posted by os tuberoes to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Neat question. I only have a moment now but from a super quick search, it looks like it's the inferior colliculus in the brainstem.
posted by exogenous at 6:53 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

This article is focusing on comparative brain size, but it is well-referenced and probably contains lots of paths for further research.

Dechmann DKN, Safi K (2009) Comparative studies of brain evolution: a critical insight from the Chiroptera. Biol Rev 84:161–172.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:45 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

This isn't a direct answer but I listened to this episode of the podcast In Our time that features a few experts explaining how echolocation works and how it evolved that might answer your questions: youtube link
posted by bleep at 10:23 AM on September 30, 2019

Echolocation employed by blind humans uses both the audio and visual cortices, at least according to one study. When I heard this discussed, the researchers were particularly impressed that the visual-spatial portions of the brains in these blind folk had effectively been repurposed to work with auditory input.

Don't know how that relates to bat brains, though.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:39 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

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