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Spatial memory and orientation strategies in the elasmobranch Potamotrygon motoro.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology
Publication Date
Volume
191
Issue
8
Pages
695–706
Identifiers
PMID: 15895237
Source
Medline

Abstract

We investigated whether juvenile freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygon motoro) can solve spatial tasks by constructing a cognitive map of their environment. Two experimental conditions were run: allocentric and ego-allocentric. Rays were trained to locate food within a four-arm maze placed in a room with visual spatial cues. The feeding location (goal) within the maze (room) remained constant while the starting position varied for the allocentrically but not for the ego-allocentrically trained group. After training, all rays solved the experimental tasks; however, different orientation strategies were used within and between groups. Allocentrically trained rays reached the goal via novel routes starting from unfamiliar locations, while ego-allocentrically trained rays primarily solved the task on the basis of an egocentric turn response. Our data suggest that P. motoro orients by constructing a visual cognitive map of its environment, but also uses egocentric and/or other orientation strategies alone or in combination for spatial orientation, a choice which may be governed by the complexity of the problem. We conclude that spatial memory functions are a general feature of the vertebrate brain.

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