Vestibular Information Is Required for Dead Reckoning in the Rat

Douglas G. Wallace, Dustin J. Hines, Sergio M. Pellis, Ian Q. Whishaw
2002 Journal of Neuroscience  
Dead reckoning is an on-line form of spatial navigation used by an animal to identify its present location and return directly to a starting location, even after circuitous outward trips. At present, it is not known which of several self-movement cues (efferent copy from movement commands, proprioceptive information, sensory flow, or vestibular information) are used to compute homeward trajectories. To determine whether vestibular information is important for dead reckoning, the impact of
more » ... the impact of chemical labyrinthectomy was evaluated in a test that demanded on-line computation of a homeward trajectory. Rats were habituated to leave a refuge that was visible from all locations on a circular table to forage for large food pellets, which they carried back to the refuge to eat. Two different probe trials were given: (1) the rats foraged from the same spatial location from a hidden refuge in the light and so were able to use visual cues to navigate; (2) the same procedure took place in the dark, constraining the animals to dead reckon. Although control rats carried food directly and rapidly back to the refuge on both probes, the rats with vestibular lesions were able to do so on the hidden refuge but not on the dark probe. The scores of vestibular reflex tests predicted the dead reckoning deficit. The vestibular animals were also impaired in learning a new piloting task. This is the first unambiguous demonstration that vestibular information is used in dead reckoning and also contributes to piloting.
doi:10.1523/jneurosci.22-22-10009.2002 pmid:12427858 fatcat:myt3joaqj5fcfh7mqtqsizcqfi