Thursday, June 20, 2024


    Echolocation is a process where emitting sounds can help one determine the location and size of objects that can not be seen. The brain uses the emitted sound and the received sound to determine how far away an object is. Blind people can use this to help them in navigating around a room for example. Seeing people also have this ability and they don't even know it. If we close our eyes, we can still perceive the things around us even though we can't see them. Many animals use this as well to be able to locate objects around them in the dark. 

    Animals like whales, dolphins, or bats use echolocation to navigate but also to hunt prey. Toothed whales do not have a traditional external ear canal so they use this process a little differently. They have an acoustic window towards the back of their jaw that allows them to still use this process. This acoustic window is a thin area of bone and a fat pad that receives the returning sound and sends it to the inner ear. The whale is able to use this sound to determine how far away the prey is and they can also determine what species the sound bounced off of. 

    This process is so similar to how humans use echolocation yet so different. All of the internal processes are the same and the brain is working in similar ways. However, the method of how the sound gets to the the brain to be processed is so different. It is interesting to be see how the same process can be used in such different ways.

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