Home > Papers from 2012 > Perception of slope and accuracy of 3D path integration

Perception of slope and accuracy of 3D path integration

We know that desert ants can take into account 3D terrain structure as they perform path integration. Most likely projecting their 3D position onto the 2D surface rather than performing pure 3D PI. To do this they need to be able to measure the gradient of the surface, which for ants relies on unknown sensory apparatus. In this paper, Wintergerst and Ronacher, investigate the slope detection ability of cataglyphis by rewarding ants at the top of a slope of a certain gradient and using negative reinforcement at the top of a different gradient slope. In probe tests, ants ability to distinguish the gradient of the test slope, from the gradient they had learnt in the reinforced training runs, was assessed by whether they ascended the test slope or U-turned and “rejected” the slope.

Across a variety of experimental conditions, it was found that ants ability to distinguish slope gradients was limited to about 12deg – a surprisingly poor discriminational ability. However, with a nice piece of geometry, it was possible to show how errors in gradient perception would lead to less pronounced errors in ants estimated PI home vectors, as projected onto the plane.

Sabine Wintergerst and Bernhard Ronacher (2012) Discrimination of inclined path segments by the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis. J Comp Physiol A Volume 198, Number 5, Pages 363-373

Categories: Papers from 2012
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