ESI Lecture von Julio Hechavarria

The hunt for oscillations and neural correlates of predictive coding within the bat brain

The hearing-action cycle involves sound production by a broadcaster and sound decoding in the brain of listeners. This sensory-motor loop requires a precise interplay between information sender and receiver, and it is fundamental for the ecological success of many animal species, including humans. In this talk, I will present data on the neural networks involved in vocalization coding and production in bats. The talk will focus on findings from my group related to three main topics. (i) The relation between predictive coding theory and sound coding in the bat brain, where we have collected data indicating that the bat auditory cortex has hardwired neural “priors” that favor echolocation processing. (ii) The role of brain rhythms for representing communication sound streams in the bat auditory and frontal cortices, with focus on delta, theta, and gamma oscillations for intra-areal and inter-areal neural coupling during the processing of acoustic hierarchies. (iii) The role of fronto-striatal oscillations (i.e. theta, beta and gamma rhythms) for predicting future vocal outputs in bats. Based on the data presented, I will argue that bats represent a valuable animal model for studying cornerstone theories of modern day neuroscience (i.e. predictive coding, communication through coherence, binding by synchrony) within the neuroethology framework.