Echolocation UPSC – The Durham research, published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, focuses on how easily visually impaired people can learn echolocation, and whether age influences learning.
A technique used by animals such as dolphins, whales, and bats to navigate their surroundings can also be used by blind people to get around better and have greater independence and well-being, researchers at Durham University in the UK have shown.
What Is Echolocation ?
- Echolocation, also called bio sonar, is a biological sonar used by several animal species.
- Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects near them.
- This allows the animals to move around in pitch darkness, so they can navigate, hunt, identify friends and enemies, and avoid obstacles.
- They use these echoes to locate and identify the objects.
- Echolocation is used for navigation, foraging, and hunting in various environments.
- Echolocating animals include some mammals (most notably Laurasiatheria) and a few birds.
- Especially some bat species and odontocetes (toothed whales and dolphins), but also in simpler forms in other groups such as shrews, and two cave dwelling bird groups, the so-called cave swiftlets in the genus Aerodramus (formerly Collocalia) and the unrelated Oilbird Steatorniscaripensis.
Animals that use echolocation : Echolocation UPSC
- Nocturnal oilbird
- some swiftlets
- Some shrews
- Tenrec from Madagascar
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- The researchers organised a 10-week training programme, in which 12 blind and 14 sighted volunteers aged between 21 and 79 were taught click-based echolocation, as per BBC Science Focus.
- The volunteers were trained in distinguishing between the size of objects, orientation perception and virtual navigation.
- At the end of the training, the participants had been able to improve their ability to navigate using clicking noises either from one’s mouth, walking cane taps or footsteps.