Home > Papers from 2013 > Wiggle while you walk!

Wiggle while you walk!

From behavioural studies we have been able to determine some of the general properties of how vision is used by navigating insects. However, the fine-grained sensori-motor implementation of visual strategies is less clear. Visual navigation presents interesting problems for walking ants in particular because their viewing direction is fixed relative to their long axis and therefore walking direction. Consequently, the characteristic wiggly path of an ant will lead to large changes in the ant’s view of the world, even if the ant’s path is direct overall. Lent et al. have looked at the fine details of this situation for wood ants navigating towards a visually defined goal. The wiggly/zigzag paths that the ants take toward the goal results in the ant reliably (but briefly) facing in the goal direction at the points of the zigzag where ants change turning direction.  They find that the rapid saccade-like-turns (Lent et al. 2010, PNAS) that ants use to correct for errors in visually defined direction, are usually found in the same phase of the zigzag cycle as when ants would expect to be facing in the goal direction. Such phase-dependent use of vision shows how ants have organised their sensori-motor behaviour in such a way that they can still use a simple path control strategy.

Lent, D. D., Graham, P., & Collett, T. S. (2013). Phase-Dependent Visual Control of the Zigzag Paths of Navigating Wood Ants. Current Biology.

Categories: Papers from 2013
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