Since traveling in nature involves encountering various vertical structures, integration of horizontal and vertical spatial information is required. One form of such integration is to use information acquired in one plane for spatial navigation in another plane. Here we tested whether rats and ants that learned a reward location in a horizontal maze could utilize this information when the maze was rotated to a vertical orientation and vice versa. Rats that were trained in a horizontal Y-maze required more time to reach the reward when the maze was vertically rotated, but they were more accurate in choosing the correct arm. In contrast, rats tested in a horizontal maze after being trained in a vertical maze were less accurate but reached the reward faster. Changes after maze rotation were moderate and non-significant in ants, perhaps since the number of ants arriving at the reward increased over trials, diminishing the effect of maze rotation in ants compared to rats. According to the notion that horizontal spatial information is encoded in more detail than vertical information, the slow performance of rats in the vertical domain could be due to a more physically demanding task whereas their accuracy was due to a preceding detailed horizontal encoding. In contrast, rats in the vertical maze could gather less detailed information and therefore were less accurate in subsequent horizontal trials, where the lower energy cost enabled them to swiftly correct wrong choices. Altogether, the present results provide an indication for transferring spatial information between horizontal and vertical dimensions.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bega D, Samocha Y, Yitzhak N, Saar M, Subach A, Scharf I (2019) The effect of maze complexity on maze-solving time in a desert ant. Behav Process 166:103893
Chittka L, Skorupski P, Raine NE (2009) Speed–accuracy tradeoffs in animal decision making. Trends Ecol Evol 24:400–407
Flores-Abreu IN, Hurly TA, Ainge JA, Healy SD (2014) Three-dimensional space: locomotory style explains memory differences in rats and hummingbirds. Proc R Soc b: Biol Sci 281:20140301
Hagbi Z, Segev E, Eilam D (2022) Keep a level head to know the way ahead: how rodents travel on inclined surfaces? iScience. 25:104424
Gilad T, Dorfman A, Subach A, Libbrecht R, Foitzik S, Scharf I (2022) Evidence for the effect of brief exposure to food, but not learning interference, on maze solving in desert ants. Integ Zool. 17:704–714
Grobéty MC, Schenk F (1992) Spatial learning in a three-dimensional maze. Anim Behav 43:1011–1020
Hayman R, Verriotis MA, Jovalekic A, Fenton AA, Jeffery KJ (2011) Anisotropic encoding of three-dimensional space by place cells and grid cells. Nat Neurosci 14:1182–1188
Jeffery KJ, Jovalekic A, Verriotis M, Hayman R (2013) Navigating in a three-dimensional world. Behav Brain Sci 36:523–543
Jovalekic A, Hayman R, Becares N, Reid H, Thomas G, Wilson J, Jeffery K (2011) Horizontal biases in rats’ use of three-dimensional space. Behav Brain Res 222:279–288
Keller L, Chapuisat M (2010) Eusociality and Cooperation. Encyclopedia of life sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester
Lenoir A, Aron S, Cerda X, Hefetz A (2009) Cataglyphis desert ants: a good model for evolutionary biology in Darwin’s anniversary year – a review. Isr J Entomol 39:1–32
Porter BS, Hillman KL, Bilkey DK (2019) Anterior cingulate cortex encoding of effortful behavior. J Neurophysiol 121:701–714
Sharp RP (1963) Wind ripples. J Geol 71:617–636
Shinder ME, Taube JS (2019) Three-dimensional tuning of head direction cells in rats. J Neurophysiol 121:4–37
Weisberg SM, Newcombe NS (2013) Are all types of vertical information created equal? Behav Brain Sci 36:568–569
Wolf S, Roper M, Chittka L (2015) Bumblebees utilize floral cues differently on vertically and horizontally arranged flowers. Behav Ecol 26:773–781
Yanoviak SP, Fisher BL, Alonso A (2008) Directed aerial descent behavior in African canopy ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J Insect Behav 21:164–171
We are grateful to Ms. Ravid Yechezkely, Ms. Diana Zaikin, Ms. Tal Goldstein, and Mr. Eden Lahav for their help in experimentation and analyses.
This study did not receive any external funding.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare no competing interests.
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee. Rats were maintained and tested under the regulation and approval of the institutional Committee for Animal Experimentation at Tel-Aviv University, Permit # TAU – LS – IL – 2203 – 123 – 2.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Hagbi, Z., Gilad, T., Zadicario, P. et al. Can rats and ants exchange information between the horizontal and vertical domains?. Anim Cogn 26, 1083–1089 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-022-01716-3