Three-dimensional space: locomotory style explains memory differences in rats and hummingbirds

I. N. Flores-Abreu, T. A. Hurly, J. A. Ainge, S. D. Healy
2014 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences  
While most animals live in a three-dimensional world, they move through it to different extents depending on their mode of locomotion: terrestrial animals move vertically less than do swimming and flying animals. As nearly everything we know about how animals learn and remember locations in space comes from two-dimensional experiments in the horizontal plane, here we determined whether the use of three-dimensional space by a terrestrial and a flying animal was correlated with memory for a
more » ... ed location. In the cubic mazes in which we trained and tested rats and hummingbirds, rats moved more vertically than horizontally, whereas hummingbirds moved equally in the three dimensions. Consistent with their movement preferences, rats were more accurate in relocating the horizontal component of a rewarded location than they were in the vertical component. Hummingbirds, however, were more accurate in the vertical dimension than they were in the horizontal, a result that cannot be explained by their use of space. Either as a result of evolution or ontogeny, it appears that birds and rats prioritize horizontal versus vertical components differently when they remember three-dimensional space.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0301 pmid:24741019 pmcid:PMC4043095 fatcat:j2xie4acivajjpnkvnwz2c2jsa