Distinct and combined responses to environmental geometry and features in a working-memory reorientation task in rats and chicks

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The original provocative formulation of the 'geometric module' hypothesis was based on a working-memory task in rats which suggested that spontaneous reorientation behavior is based solely on the environmental geometry and is impervious to featural cues. Here, we retested that claim by returning to a spontaneous navigation task with rats and domestic chicks, using a single prominent featural cue (a striped wall) within a rectangular arena. Experiments 1 and 2 tested the influence of geometry and features separately. In Experiment 1, we found that both rats and chicks used environmental geometry to compute locations in a plain rectangular arena. In Experiment 2, while chicks failed to spontaneously use a striped wall in a square arena, rats showed a modest influence of the featural cue as a local marker to the goal. The critical third experiment tested the striped wall inside the rectangular arena. We found that although chicks solely relied on geometry, rats navigated based on both environmental geometry and the featural cue. While our findings with rats are contrary to classic claims of an impervious geometric module, they are consistent with the hypothesis that navigation by boundaries and features may involve distinct underlying cognitive computations. We conclude by discussing the similarities and differences in feature-use across tasks and species.
Publisher
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Issue Date
2020-05
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Citation

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v.10, no.1

ISSN
2045-2322
DOI
10.1038/s41598-020-64366-w
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/274458
Appears in Collection
BiS-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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