JHU Records Brain Activity of a Free-flying Bat


(UPBEAT MUSIC) (PROF. MOSS) 25 years ago my colleague looked at me like I had two heads (laughs) when I said that I wanted to study neural activity in free-flying bats, because the technology just wasn’t there. (MUSIC) (MOSS) While they’re referred to as the ‘big brown bat,’ are really very small. They weigh less than an ounce, so to have them fly and carry hardware that can record and transmit the neural activity was a real challenge. (MELVILLE) We’re the first lab that has examined this issue of how you keep track of an object as you move through space. This device right here on the head allows us to record wirelessly from the animal and it transmits the neural signals to a receiver that is mounted on the ceiling. And then the bat is trained to fly around in the room and navigate around obstacles. And while that happens we record its vocalizations, where it is in three-dimensional space and neural activity from the brain. (NINAD) To record and see signals in a brain when an animal is really, let’s say, looking at something, and to see a neuron fire was like the holy grail for me. (MELVILLE) To actually be in that room, have the animal flying around, being able to observe brain activity as the animal is controlling its behavior online… I mean Ninad and I, that was… we were high-fiving at the end of that day. (NINAD LAUGHS) That was a great day! MUSIC UP AND FADES OUT

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