ANC Workshop - 22/10/2019

Speaker:  Richard Shillcock (work with Beren Millidge and Andrea Ravignani)

Title:   Vocal imitation can create acoustic attractors to guide mothers to pups in a crowded colony of Mexican free-tailed bats: a cognitive modelling exploration

Abstract: How can we understand vocal imitation, the rare ability of certain species to copy vocalizations and other environmental sounds? How can computational modelling assist us? We focus on bats, specifically the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana). A large colony is a pandemonium of visual, olfactory and auditory cues to a pup’s location. Our computational model shows that if each pup’s vocalizations are influenced by its neighbours, robust attractors develop in the soundscape across the colony. Vocal imitation radically simplifies the problem of a returning mother finding a particular pup. She need only ascend the gradient of similarity with her own infant’s vocalization. This strategy outperforms other simple spatial search strategies and yields a parsimonious explanation for the role of vocal imitation in bats.

Oct 22 2019 -

ANC Workshop - 22/10/2019

Speaker: Richard Shillcock

G.03, IF