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Depth perception: cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) respond to visual texture density gradients

Abstract

Studies concerning the perceptual processes of animals are not only interesting, but are fundamental to the understanding of other developments in information processing among non-humans. Carefully used visual illusions have been proven to be an informative tool for understanding visual perception. In this behavioral study, we demonstrate that cuttlefish are responsive to visual cues involving texture gradients. Specifically, 12 out of 14 animals avoided swimming over a solid surface with a gradient picture that to humans resembles an illusionary crevasse, while only 5 out of 14 avoided a non-illusionary texture. Since texture gradients are well-known cues for depth perception in vertebrates, we suggest that these cephalopods were responding to the depth illusion created by the texture density gradient. Density gradients and relative densities are key features in distance perception in vertebrates. Our results suggest that they are fundamental features of vision in general, appearing also in cephalopods.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Ben-Gurion University’s Marine Biology and Biotechnology program for their support, and are grateful to the cephalopod group at CCMAR for their warm hospitality. The comments and discussions with Chuan-Chin Chiao, Irene Leal, Jean Boal, Lelia Cartron, Paulo Frias, Igal Bernstein, Ofri Mann, and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved this manuscript. This study was partly supported by an Israeli Science Foundation Grant # 1081/10 to NS and by the Halperin and Shechter foundations. NJ, SM, and NS received financial support from the European Community for the access provided to Ramalhete Station at CCMAR through the ASSEMBLE program (EC/FP7 Grant Agreement No. 227799). The funders played no part in the design of the study, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The experiments performed in this study complied with the Portuguese National Legislation for animal experiments.

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Correspondence to Noam Josef.

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Josef, N., Mann, O., Sykes, A.V. et al. Depth perception: cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) respond to visual texture density gradients. Anim Cogn 17, 1393–1400 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0774-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0774-8

Keywords

  • Cephalopods
  • Visual illusions
  • Distance processing
  • 3D comprehension