Superior Colliculus - Evolution and Comparative Anatomy - Bats


Bats are not, in fact, blind, but they depend much more on echolocation than vision for navigation and prey capture. They obtain information about the surrounding world by emitting sonar chirps and then listening for the echoes. Their brains are highly specialized for this process, and some of these specializations appear in the superior colliculus. In bats, the retinal projection occupies only a thin zone just beneath the surface, but there are extensive inputs from auditory areas, and outputs to motor areas capable of orienting the ears, head, or body. Echoes coming from different directions activate neurons at different locations in the collicular layers, and activation of collicular neurons influences the chirps that the bats emit. Thus, there is a strong case that the superior colliculus performs the same sorts of functions for the auditory-guided behaviors of bats that it performs for the visual-guided behaviors of other species.

Bats are usually classified into two main groups: Microchiroptera (the most numerous, and commonly found throughout the world), and Megachiroptera (fruit bats, found in Asia, Africa and Australasia). With one exception, Megabats do not echolocate, and rely on a developed sense of vision to navigate. The visual receptive fields of neurons in the superior colliculus in these animals form a precise map of the retina, similar to that found in cats and primates.

Read more about this topic:  Superior Colliculus, Evolution and Comparative Anatomy

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