Bats have special cells to help them navigate in 3D say scientists

A group of researchers studying bats has made an interesting discovery. The team has discovered that bats have specialized cells inside their body that allow them to navigate in 3D. According to the researchers, the bat's have something akin to a metal compass inside their brains thanks to these special cells. The team of neuroscientists is from Israel and made the discovery by studying the brains of bats in mid-flight.

By studying the bats while they were flying, the team was about to see for the first time how the brain of the bats is able to track up-down, left-right, and rotating motion. Team members claim that this is the first study to relate neural activity to navigation.

The scientists believe that there are three types of brain cells with each one sensitive to one dimension. The team used tiny recorders in their research that weigh only a few grams attached to the bat's brain to record cells firing within the bat without interrupting the bat's activity.

The data recorded by these devices was then synchronized with data gleaned using high-speed cameras to form an overall picture of the bat's 3D mental compass in action. The team was able to discover using this technique that specific neurons fired when the bat faced a certain direction on a horizontal plane. Other neurons would fire when the bat was twisted in flight, such as when performing a barrel roll.

SOURCE: Popular Mechanics