Home > Papers from 2014 > Scanning as an indicator of uncertainty.

Scanning as an indicator of uncertainty.

We all know that ants are excellent navigators, but they do sometimes end up in the wrong place – especially when moved by an experimenter. In those situations we often observed Australian desert ant foragers rotating on the spot. To further investigate this behaviour we used high-speed cameras and tried to provoke the behaviour by manipulating the visual world. We find that the scanning behaviour is saccadic with pauses separated by fast rotations. We also found four situations where scanning is typically displayed: (1) by naïve ants on their first departure from the nest; (2) by experienced ants departing from the nest for their first foraging trip of the day; (3) by experienced ants when the familiar visual surround was experimentally modified, in which case frequency and duration of scans were proportional to the degree of modification; (4) when the information from visual cues is at odds with the direction indicated by the ant’s path integration system. Taken together, we see a general relationship between scanning behaviours and periods of uncertainty.

Wystrach, A., Philippides, A., Aurejac, A., Cheng, K., & Graham, P. (2014). Visual scanning behaviours and their role in the navigation of the Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 1-12.
Categories: Papers from 2014
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