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Insects modify their behaviour depending on the feedback sensor used when walking on a trackball in virtual-reality

Taylor, Gavin LU ; Paulk, Angelique C; Pearson, Thomas WJ; Moore, Richard JD; Stacey, Jacqui A; Ball, David; van Swinderen, Bruno and Srinivasan, Mandyam V (2015) In Journal of Experimental Biology 218. p.3118-3127
Abstract
When using virtual-reality paradigms to study animal behaviour, careful attention must be paid to how the animal's actions are detected. This is particularly relevant in closed-loop experiments where the animal interacts with a stimulus. Many different sensor types have been used to measure aspects of behaviour, and although some sensors may be more accurate than others, few studies have examined whether, and how, such differences affect an animal's behaviour in a closed-loop experiment. To investigate this issue, we conducted experiments with tethered honeybees walking on an air-supported trackball and fixating a visual object in closed-loop. Bees walked faster and along straighter paths when the motion of the trackball was measured in... (More)
When using virtual-reality paradigms to study animal behaviour, careful attention must be paid to how the animal's actions are detected. This is particularly relevant in closed-loop experiments where the animal interacts with a stimulus. Many different sensor types have been used to measure aspects of behaviour, and although some sensors may be more accurate than others, few studies have examined whether, and how, such differences affect an animal's behaviour in a closed-loop experiment. To investigate this issue, we conducted experiments with tethered honeybees walking on an air-supported trackball and fixating a visual object in closed-loop. Bees walked faster and along straighter paths when the motion of the trackball was measured in the classical fashion - using optical motion sensors repurposed from computer mice - than when measured more accurately using a computer vision algorithm called 'FicTrac'. When computer mouse sensors were used to measure bees' behaviour, the bees modified their behaviour and achieved improved control of the stimulus. This behavioural change appears to be a response to a systematic error in the computer mouse sensor that reduces the sensitivity of this sensor system under certain conditions. Although the large perceived inertia and mass of the trackball relative to the honeybee is a limitation of tethered walking paradigms, observing differences depending on the sensor system used to measure bee behaviour was not expected. This study suggests that bees are capable of fine-tuning their motor control to improve the outcome of the task they are performing. Further, our findings show that caution is required when designing virtual-reality experiments, as animals can potentially respond to the artificial scenario in unexpected and unintended ways. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of Experimental Biology
volume
218
pages
3118 - 3127
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • scopus:84962892169
ISSN
1477-9145
DOI
10.1242/jeb.125617
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
1f3a6d8e-8532-4273-aa17-2ad64e3c6d0f (old id 8054657)
date added to LUP
2015-10-22 12:47:23
date last changed
2017-10-22 04:55:24
@article{1f3a6d8e-8532-4273-aa17-2ad64e3c6d0f,
  abstract     = {When using virtual-reality paradigms to study animal behaviour, careful attention must be paid to how the animal's actions are detected. This is particularly relevant in closed-loop experiments where the animal interacts with a stimulus. Many different sensor types have been used to measure aspects of behaviour, and although some sensors may be more accurate than others, few studies have examined whether, and how, such differences affect an animal's behaviour in a closed-loop experiment. To investigate this issue, we conducted experiments with tethered honeybees walking on an air-supported trackball and fixating a visual object in closed-loop. Bees walked faster and along straighter paths when the motion of the trackball was measured in the classical fashion - using optical motion sensors repurposed from computer mice - than when measured more accurately using a computer vision algorithm called 'FicTrac'. When computer mouse sensors were used to measure bees' behaviour, the bees modified their behaviour and achieved improved control of the stimulus. This behavioural change appears to be a response to a systematic error in the computer mouse sensor that reduces the sensitivity of this sensor system under certain conditions. Although the large perceived inertia and mass of the trackball relative to the honeybee is a limitation of tethered walking paradigms, observing differences depending on the sensor system used to measure bee behaviour was not expected. This study suggests that bees are capable of fine-tuning their motor control to improve the outcome of the task they are performing. Further, our findings show that caution is required when designing virtual-reality experiments, as animals can potentially respond to the artificial scenario in unexpected and unintended ways.},
  author       = {Taylor, Gavin and Paulk, Angelique C and Pearson, Thomas WJ and Moore, Richard JD and Stacey, Jacqui A and Ball, David and van Swinderen, Bruno and Srinivasan, Mandyam V},
  issn         = {1477-9145},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {3118--3127},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Biology},
  title        = {Insects modify their behaviour depending on the feedback sensor used when walking on a trackball in virtual-reality},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.125617},
  volume       = {218},
  year         = {2015},
}