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Long-term and persistent vocal plasticity in adult bats.

  • Author(s): Genzel, Daria
  • Desai, Janki
  • Paras, Elana
  • Yartsev, Michael
  • et al.
Abstract

Bats exhibit a diverse and complex vocabulary of social communication calls some of which are believed to be learned during development. This ability to produce learned, species-specific vocalizations - a rare trait in the animal kingdom - requires a high-degree of vocal plasticity. Bats live extremely long lives in highly complex and dynamic social environments, which suggests that they might also retain a high degree of vocal plasticity in adulthood, much as humans do. Here, we report persistent vocal plasticity in adult bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) following exposure to broad-band, acoustic perturbation. Our results show that adult bats can not only modify distinct parameters of their vocalizations, but that these changes persist even after noise cessation - in some cases lasting several weeks or months. Combined, these findings underscore the potential importance of bats as a model organism for studies of vocal plasticity, including in adulthood.

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