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Spatial memory and orientation strategies in the elasmobranch Potamotrygon motoro.

Authors
  • Schluessel, Vera
  • Bleckmann, Horst
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2005
Volume
191
Issue
8
Pages
695–706
Identifiers
PMID: 15895237
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

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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