ERIC Number: EJ972495
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Visual Landmarks Facilitate Rodent Spatial Navigation in Virtual Reality Environments
Youngstrom, Isaac A.; Strowbridge, Ben W.
Learning & Memory, v19 n3 p84-90 Mar 2012
Because many different sensory modalities contribute to spatial learning in rodents, it has been difficult to determine whether spatial navigation can be guided solely by visual cues. Rodents moving within physical environments with visual cues engage a variety of nonvisual sensory systems that cannot be easily inhibited without lesioning brain areas. Virtual reality offers a unique approach to ask whether visual landmark cues alone are sufficient to improve performance in a spatial task. We found that mice could learn to navigate between two water reward locations along a virtual bidirectional linear track using a spherical treadmill. Mice exposed to a virtual environment with vivid visual cues rendered on a single monitor increased their performance over a 3-d training regimen. Training significantly increased the percentage of time avatars controlled by the mice spent near reward locations in probe trials without water rewards. Neither improvement during training or spatial learning for reward locations occurred with mice operating a virtual environment without vivid landmarks or with mice deprived of all visual feedback. Mice operating the vivid environment developed stereotyped avatar turning behaviors when alternating between reward zones that were positively correlated with their performance on the probe trial. These results suggest that mice are able to learn to navigate to specific locations using only visual cues presented within a virtual environment rendered on a single computer monitor.
Descriptors: Animals, Navigation, Spatial Ability, Computer Simulation, Cues, Visual Stimuli, Training
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A