The Cocktail Party Problem
Like humans, bats are subject to a multitude of sounds in their environment, but how does a creature that relies on sound to “see” deal with all the chatter? Mounya Elhilali, the Charles Renn Faculty Scholar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Laboratory for Computational Audio Perception, studies the so-called cocktail party problem—how people make sense of overlapping sounds when they walk into a crowded room. Her part of the research involves looking at how bats decipher their own calls from those of other bats and how their neural responses change accordingly. Elhilali says that her work creating mathematical models based on human responses to the cocktail party problem should inform her work with bats and vice versa, creating new insights as to how mammals navigate complex social situations.