Insect Behavioral Evidence of Spatial Memories During Environmental Reconfiguration
Insects are great explorers, able to navigate through long-distance trajectories and successfully find their way back. Their navigational routes cross dynamic environments suggesting adaptation to novel configurations. Arthropods and vertebrates share neural organizational principles and it has been shown that rodents modulate their neural spatial representation accordingly with environmental changes. However, it is unclear whether insects reflexively adapt to environmental changes or retain memory traces of previously explored situations. We sought to disambiguate between insect behavior in environmental novel situations and reconfiguration conditions. An immersive mixed-reality multi-sensory setup was built to replicate multi-sensory cues. We have designed an experimental setup where female crickets Gryllus Bimaculatus were trained to move towards paired auditory and visual cues during primarily phonotactic driven behavior. We hypothesized that insects were capable of identifying sensory modifications in known environments. Our results show that, regardless of the animal’s history, novel situation conditions did not compromise the animals performance and navigational directionality towards a new target location. However, in trials where visual and auditory stimuli were spatially decoupled, the animals heading variability towards a previously known position significantly increased. Our findings showed that crickets can behaviorally manifest environmental reconfiguration, suggesting the encoding for spatial representation.
KeywordsInsect Navigation Memory Spatial representation
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no.  cDAC.
Author Contributions Statement. Z.M. and P.V. conceived the experiment, D.S.P. conducted the experiment and analyzed the results. D.S.P, Z.M., and A.E developed the setup. All authors were involved in the revision of the manuscript.
- 2.Mathews, Z., Lechón, M., Calvo, J.B., Dhir, A., Duff, A., Verschure, P.F., et al.: Insect-like mapless navigation based on head direction cells and contextual learning using chemo-visual sensors. In: IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2009, pp. 2243–2250. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
- 8.Skinner, B.F.: The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis (1938)Google Scholar
- 9.Von Frisch, K.: The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees (1967)Google Scholar
- 20.Kramer, E.: Orientation of the male silkmoth to the sex attractant bombykol. Olfaction Taste 5, 329–335 (1975)Google Scholar
- 26.Shiramatsu, D., Ando, N., Takahashi, H., Kanzaki, R., Fujita, S., Sano, Y., Andoh, T.: Target selection mechanism for collision-free navigation of robots based on antennal tracking strategies of crickets. In: 2010 3rd IEEE RAS and EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), pp. 259–264. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
- 31.O’keefe, J., Nadel, L.: The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map, vol. 3. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1978)Google Scholar
- 34.Hirth, F., Reichert, H.: BioEssaysGoogle Scholar
- 38.Mathews, Z., et al.: Generic neuromorphic principles of cognition and attention for ants, humans and real-world artefacts: a comparative computational approach (2011)Google Scholar