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Humans may develop supernatural bat-like echolocation sensing abilities, Says Study

This topic is a lot more complex than the five basic senses of humans.

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

A research paper, published in Plos One, says that humans have a basic form of echolocation, a quality seen in other species like bats and dolphins, that helps identify the size, shape, and motion of objects with the help of sound.

Miwa Sumiya, one of the study’s authors and a researcher affiliated with the Center for Information and Neural Networks, claimed that the finding could lead to a greater understanding of the human brain.

According to him:

Examining how humans can acquire new sensing abilities to recognize environments using sounds [i.e., echolocation] may lead to the understanding of the flexibility of human brains.

We may also be able to gain insights into sensing strategies of other species [like bats] by comparing with knowledge gained in studies on human echolocation.

Humans actually have more than the five basic senses of touch, sight, sound, taste and smell.

In fact, humans have a variety of additional minor senses such as spatial orientation, proprioception (body position) and pain reception while other animals have even more advanced senses such as being able to detect electrical and magnetic signals.

In a complex experiment, 15 participants used a device to generate an echolocation signal that bounced off two oddly shaped cylinders which were either rotating or stationary and then listened back to the echoed sound through headphones.

The echoed sound was rendered binaurally to create a surround sound experience similar to that of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).

Mr Sumiya further added:

The synthetic echolocation signal used in this study included high-frequency signals up to 41 kHz that humans cannot listen to.

Participants in the study were able to identify the existence of the rotating cylinders using only the echoed sound through timbre and pitch of the echo even though they could not directly see the objects.

However, participants were not accurately able to identify the exact shape of the stationary objects which had special grooves etched onto the surface.

The study has real world applications for those with ocular disabilities such as blindness, the scientists believe.

In the future, those with visual impairments may be able to navigate the world using echolocation technology.

Daniel Kish, president of the World Access for the Blind, is an advocate for echolocation techniques.

Speaking to the Smithsonian Magazine in 2017, he said:

You could fill libraries with what we know about the human visual system, but what we know about human echolocation could barely fill a bookshelf.

Image Credit: iStock

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