Elements of a stochastic 3D prediction engine in larval zebrafish prey capture

Andrew D Bolton, Martin Haesemeyer, Josua Jordi, Ulrich Schaechtle, Feras A Saad, Vikash K Mansinghka, Joshua B Tenenbaum, Florian Engert
2019 eLife  
The computational principles underlying predictive capabilities in animals are poorly understood. Here, we wondered whether predictive models mediating prey capture could be reduced to a simple set of sensorimotor rules performed by a primitive organism. For this task, we chose the larval zebrafish, a tractable vertebrate that pursues and captures swimming microbes. Using a novel naturalistic 3D setup, we show that the zebrafish combines position and velocity perception to construct a future
more » ... itional estimate of its prey, indicating an ability to project trajectories forward in time. Importantly, the stochasticity in the fish's sensorimotor transformations provides a considerable advantage over equivalent noise-free strategies. This surprising result coalesces with recent findings that illustrate the benefits of biological stochasticity to adaptive behavior. In sum, our study reveals that zebrafish are equipped with a recursive prey capture algorithm, built up from simple stochastic rules, that embodies an implicit predictive model of the world.
doi:10.7554/elife.51975 pmid:31769753 pmcid:PMC6930116 fatcat:qxj5rd7kkvhzzmksofrydo5xsm