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Human Echolocation

It is well known that animals like bats and dolphins echolocate to navigate their environment. It is less well-known, however, that humans can echolocate as well, for example by making clicks with their tongue and mouth and then listening for the click echoes.

In my work I use behavioural experiments and fMRI to investigate click-based echolocation. In fact, I led the first-ever study investigating the brain areas involved in natural human echolocation (Thaler, L., Arnott, S.R. & Goodale, M. A. (2011) Neural correlates of natural human echolocation in early and late blind echolocation experts. PLoS ONE, 6(5): e20162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020162.[link to free article]). At this point there is comparably little research about human echolocation, especially with regard to brain imaging and computational modeling, so that many open questions remain.

Fiehler, K., Schütz, I., Meller, T. & Thaler, L. (2015) Neural correlates of human echolocation of path direction during walking. Multisensory Research, 28, 195-226.

Milne, J.L., Goodale, M.A., Arnott S.R., Kish, D. & Thaler, L. (2015) Parahippocampal cortex is involved in material processing through echolocation in blind echolocation experts. Vision Research, doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2014.07.004.

Milne, J.L., Anello, M., Goodale, M.A., & Thaler, L. (2014) A blind human expert echolocator shows size constancy for objects perceived by echoes. Neurocase, in Press. doi: 10.1080/13554794.2014.922994. [download as pdf]

Milne, J.L., Goodale, M.A., & Thaler, L. (2014) The role of head movements in the discrimination of 2-D shape by blind echolocation experts. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 76, 1828-1837. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0695-2. [download as pdf]

Thaler, L., Wilson, R.C. & Gee, B.K. (2014) Correlation between Vividness of Visual Imagery and Echolocation Ability in Sighted, Echo-Naive People. Experimental Brain Research, 232 (6), 1915-1925. doi: 10.1007/s00221-014-3883-3. [download as pdf]

Thaler, L., Milne, J.L., Arnott,S., Kish,D. & Goodale, M.A. (2014). Neural Correlates of Motion Processing through Echolocation, Source Hearing and Vision in Blind Echolocation Experts and Sighted Echolocation Novices. Journal of Neurophysiology, 111: 112:127.[download as pdf]

Thaler, L.(2013) Echolocation may have real-life advantages for blind people: an analysis of survey data. Frontiers in Integrative Physiology, 4:98. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00098.[link to free article]

Arnott,S.R., Thaler, L., Milne,J., Kish,D. & Goodale, M.A.(2013). Shape-specific activation of occipital cortex in an early blind echolocation expert. Neuropsychologia,51, 938-949.

Schlicht, T., Vetter, P., Thaler, L. & Moss, C. (2012). Wahrnehmung. In Handbuch Kognitionswissenschaft. Stephan, A. & Walter, S. Stuttgart: Metzler.

Thaler, L., Arnott, S.R. & Goodale, M. A. (2011) Neural correlates of natural human echolocation in early and late blind echolocation experts. PLoS ONE, 6(5): e20162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020162.[link to free article]