Home > Papers from 2011 > Odometry versus sequence in a visual choice task

Odometry versus sequence in a visual choice task

A large volume of experiments have demonstrated the importance of contextual cues for insects (choosing and) using the appropriate visual information for navigation. The issue is important because it addresses directly the way in which navigational memories are organised in the insect brain. In their recent paper Schwarz and Cheng address this issue in Melophorus bagoti using a y-maze style apparatus. In a pair of choice boxes, ants learn to associate a visual pattern (the + pattern) with the correct exit. In tests, the + patterns can be arranged so that they appear either after the correct distance or in the correct sequence. Ants prefer the odometer associated pattern, when the homeward distance was short (4m) and the sequence defined pattern when the inbound distance was long (8m). Because the distance between the boxes was constant the relative odometrical signal was greater (therefore more reliably discriminated) in the in 4m experiment. This result suggests that ants are able to choose between context cues on a task by task basis.

Sebastian Schwarz and Ken Cheng (2011) Visual discrimination, sequential learning and memory retrieval in the Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti. Animal Cognition. doi 10.1007/s10071-011-0419-0

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