Home > Papers from 2011 > Multi-model place learning

Multi-model place learning

Continuing their studies of the the use of odour cues by desert ants, Steck et al investigate how a multimodal signal improves place learning. They demonstrated that ants could use odour or visual cues to define a nest location and that these cues were learnt at roughly the same speed. However, when odour and visual cues were presented together, the learning rate was much much faster. Thus sugesting that the interaction between the learnt cues was more than additive. Intriguingly, after only a single learning event, with both odour and visual cues, ants could accurately use information from either cue presented singly. Yet after repeated training the compound cue had to be present for ants to be able to use it to control a tight search for their fictive nest.
Recently, it has been shown that an odour cue changes the gain on visuomotor responses in drosophila. This study suggests something similar; I.e. salient information from multiple modalities increases the gain of some components of the learning system.

Kathrin Steck, Bill S. Hansson and Markus Knaden (2011) Desert ants benefit from combining visual and olfactory landmarks. J Exp Biol 214, 1307-1312

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Categories: Papers from 2011
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