Frontiers in Physiology
Not a bat choice: echolocation works better than eyesight, even under adequate light
A new study in Frontiers in Physiology shows for the first time that bats catch insects by sonar as it is far more efficient than using vision, even during twilight.
Bats have eyes and may not have evolved their ultrasonic sonar from the earliest time of their existence on earth. Approximately 1000 species of bats use sonar to detect prey, despite showing considerable variation in the preferred size of their prey and their mode of hunting. But why? Many bats hunt partly in twilight, similar to insect-eating bird species such as nightjars, which solely rely on eyesight and do fine without echolocation.
Arjan Boonman and colleagues from Tel Aviv University here model the quality of information that two species of bats receive from sonar and eyesight when hunting for insects. The researchers found that both species use their sonar as much in twilight (1 to 10 lux) as in complete darkness. They show that this reliance on ultrasonic sonar is advantageous, because sonar detects insects (e.g. moths, ant queens, and mosquitos) at distances that are 0.25 to 5 m shorter than eyesight, even under low- and intermediate light intensities. By making it possible to catch small prey more efficiently than with vision only, sonar has opened a unique niche for bats and promoted their astounding diversification.
Dr Arjan Boonman
Department of Zoology
University of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, Israel
Article: It's not black or white - on the range of vision and echolocation in echolocating bats
Journal: Frontiers in Physiology
Frontiers in Psychology
Review provides evidence that playing video games can boost cognition
Thirty years of research has yielded strong evidence that playing video games can have pronounced positive effects on many cognitive functions, concludes a new review in Frontiers in Psychology.
Soon after the first video games such as Pong and Space Invaders hit the market in the 1970s, psychologists and neuroscientists began to investigate whether playing video games might be beneficial to the brain. Andrew Latham and colleagues here review the literature on this thorny question, encompassing almost 50 studies published over 28 years. They show that video games can boost a surprisingly wide array of cognitive functions, for example hand-eye coordination, spatial visualization, visual anticipation, reaction time, and task switching. These benefits are more pronounced for modern games, which are more complex than games from the 1980s and 1990s. Latham et al. also discuss the neural mechanisms that could underlie these benefits of game playing. They conclude that video-game play could be profitably used in education and clinical settings to improve cognitive functions.
Andrew J. Latham
School of Psychology
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Article title: The virtual brain: 30 years of video-game play and cognitive abilities
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
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