It’s the sixth sense! Humans may be able to gain echolocation detecting abilities similar to bats, according to a new study.


It’s the sixth sense! Humans may be able to gain echolocation detecting abilities similar to bats, according to a new study.

JAPANESE experts believe humans could develop echolocation, a sixth sense comparable to that of bats.

Humans have a very primitive type of echolocation, according to a study published in Plos One earlier this month. Echolocation is a trait seen in other animals such as bats and dolphins that allows them determine the shape and movement of objects through sound. Miwa Sumiya, Ph.D., a researcher from the Center for Information and Neural Networks and one of the study’s authors, told Pop Mech that the discovery could lead to a better understanding of the human brain.

“Exploring how humans might develop new sensing capacities to distinguish environments using sounds [i.e., echolocation] may lead to a better understanding of human brain flexibility,” said Mr Miwa.

“By comparing what we know about human echolocation with what we know about other species’ sensing tactics [like bats], we may be able to obtain insights into their sensing strategies.”

The five primary senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell are not the only ones that humans have.

Humans, for example, have additional minor senses including spatial orientation, proprioception (body position), and pain reception, while some animals have more advanced senses like the ability to perceive electrical and magnetic signals.

15 participants used a gadget to generate an echolocation signal that rebounded off two irregularly shaped cylinders that were either revolving or stationary, and then listened back to the echoed sound through headphones in a complicated experiment.

The echoing sound was binaurally reproduced to generate a surround sound experience akin to autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).

“The synthetic echolocation signal employed in this work comprised high-frequency frequencies up to 41 kHz, which humans cannot hear,” Mr Sumiya continued.

Despite not being able to see the revolving cylinders, participants in the study were able to identify their presence using just the echoed sound, based on the timbre and pitch of the echo.

Participants, on the other hand, were unable to reliably determine the exact shape of stationary objects with specific grooves cut into the surface.

According to the researchers, the discovery has real-world implications for people with ocular disorders like blindness.

Those who are blind or visually impaired may be able to traverse the world with echolocation technology in the future.

The president of the World Access for the Blind, Daniel Kish, is a proponent of echolocation techniques.

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