Audio-vocal Integration

Jinhong Luo

Vocal production and sound processing are highly integrated for all natural acoustic communication tasks, such as human speech communication, yet these two processes have often been studied separately. This project investigates the neural mechanisms of audio-motor integration in the big brown bat, an animal that actively probes the environment by producing ultrasonic vocalizations and listens to the resulting echo returns to represent its surroundings. Brain activity in the inferior colliculus, a midbrain structure serving as a central hub in the auditory system, will be recorded with chronically implanted electrode arrays when resting bats are tracking an approaching food item by echolocation and when bats are flying between two perches. At the same time, sonar vocalizations will be recorded with either a telemetry microphone fixed above the bat’s head or a microphone array. Furthermore, the vocal feedback and echo feedback will be selectively perturbed via triggered playback technique. Thus, this project will help to understand how auditory feedback influences vocal production, and how vocal production influences sound processing.