Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New study examines how rearing environment can alter navigation

Many animals, including humans, frequently face the task of getting from one place to another. Although many navigational strategies exist, all vertebrate species readily use geometric cues; things such as walls and corners to determine direction within an enclosed space. Moreover, some species such as rats and human children are so influenced by these geometric cues that they often ignore more reliable features such as a distinctive object or colored wall.

This surprising reliance on geometry has led researchers to suggest the existence of a geometric module in the brain. However, since both humans and laboratory animals typically grow up in environments not entirely made up of right angles and straight lines, the prevalent use of geometry could reflect nurture rather than nature.

A new study published in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, is the first attempt to examine whether early exposure to strong geometric cues influences navigational strategy.

Alisha Brown, a psychology graduate student at the University of Alberta, raised fish in either a rectangular tank, or a circular tank free of angular information. Brown and her colleagues later trained the fish to swim to one particular corner of a rectangular-shaped test arena with either all white walls (geometric information only), or one colored wall (featural and geometric information).

Their results demonstrated that the ability to use geometry to aid navigation did not depend on exposure to angular geometry during rearing: in the featureless test arena, fish from both rectangular and circular rearing tanks used geometry to navigate. However, when features were present to help navigation, the circle-reared fish were more likely to depend on the feature even if it meant choosing a geometrically incorrect corner.

The researchers concluded that the ability to learn about geometry for navigation seems to be innate, but the use of geometric cues to navigate is determined by both nature and nurture. When reared in the absence of rectangular geometric structures, fish show a greater dependence on features for navigational guidance.

Jesse Erwin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>