Neurobiology
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Estimation of self-motion duration and distance in rodents

R Soc Open Sci 3: 160118. doi: 10.1098/rsos.160118. eCollection 2016.

Authors/Editors: Kautzky M
Thurley K
Publication Date: 2016
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2001 - 2017

Abstract

Spatial orientation and navigation rely on information about landmarks and self-motion cues gained from multi-sensory sources. In this study, we focused on self-motion and examined the capability of rodents to extract and make use of information about own movement, i.e. path integration. Path integration has been investigated in depth in insects and humans. Demonstrations in rodents, however, mostly stem from experiments on heading direction; less is known about distance estimation. We introduce a novel behavioural paradigm that allows for probing temporal and spatial contributions to path integration. The paradigm is a bisection task comprising movement in a virtual reality environment in combination with either timing the duration ran or estimating the distance covered. We performed experiments with Mongolian gerbils and could show that the animals can keep track of time and distance during spatial navigation.

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