Researchers identified a subpopulation of cells in the bat’s brain that represent navigational goals, a new study in the journal Science reported. The results provide valuable insights into how bats fly from A to B.
Ayelet Sarel and colleagues trained Egyptian fruit bats to fly in complex patterns and land at a specific site, defined as the goal, where the bats could eat and rest. While the bats completed this task, a wireless device recorded activity of individual cells in a part of their brain called the hippocampus. About 19% of neurons recorded were found to act as “tuners,” which varied in activity based on the angled directionality of a bat’s flight path toward its goal.
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