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Contextual processing of brightness and color in Mongolian gerbils

J Vis 15: 15.1.13 doi: 10.1167/15.1.13.

Authors/Editors: Garbers C
Henke J
Leibold C
Wachtler T
Thurley K
Publication Date: 2015
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2001 - 2018


Brightness and color cues are essential for visually guided behavior. However, for rodents, little is known about how well they do use these cues. We used a virtual reality setup that offers a controlled environment for sensory testing to quantitatively investigate visually guided behavior for achromatic and chromatic stimuli in Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus). In two-alternative forced choice tasks, animals had to select target stimuli based on relative intensity or color with respect to a contextual reference. Behavioral performance was characterized using psychometric analysis and probabilistic choice modeling. The analyses revealed that the gerbils learned to make decisions that required judging stimuli in relation to their visual context. Stimuli were successfully recognized down to Weber contrasts as low as 0.1. These results suggest that Mongolian gerbils have the perceptual capacity for brightness and color constancy.

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