Cognition, inter-sensory perceptual decision making – Simulating the natural environment

How do animals perceive their environment? How do they filter and weigh important information from the stream of input that they simultaneously receive through multiple sensory channels? Bats (almost) equal reliance on two sensory systems (vision and echolocation) for remote high resolution sensing of their environment allows addressing these questions in a freely behaving mammal.
Bats unique reliance on active sound emission allows us to tap into their sensory perception of the world. By simulating the natural environment in the lab and recording an echolocating freely flying bat with our array of sophisticate microphones and cameras, we know when the bat acquires information about the environment and where does it focus its sensory attention to. By altering the available sensory cues (e.g., vision, echolocation and olfaction) and adjusting the noise levels in the environment, we study bats multi-sensory perceptual decision making. In collaboration with experts on decision making we aim to take advantage of this window into the bat's brain to reveal and model sensory acquisitions processes leading to perceptual decision making. In collaboration with experts on Control theory, we aim to model the process of translating noisy incoming sensory input into fine motor command.