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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Ryan Yoder

Department/Program

Department of Psychology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract

Accurate navigation on Earth typically depends on strategies that involve the detection of gravity. This poses a problem for humans in microgravity environments, such as low earth orbit and long-term space travel. It is therefore important to investigate whether navigation performance could be improved in situations which gravity cannot be perceived. To this end, we used otoconia-deficient tilted mice, which are unable to perceive gravity, to determine whether prior experience with a visual navigation task could improve performance on an egocentric navigation task. After three visual spatial tasks were used as training (the radial arm maze, the radial arm maze without walls, and the open maze), control and tilted mice performed a Lashley III maze across five trials in darkness. Performance measures included latency to reach the food reward and number of errors, which included incorrect turns or turning around in an alley. Results show that previous training on a visual task improved performance on a non-visual navigation task in otoconia-deficient tilted mice, regardless of which visual task was used for pretraining. Prior experience with an alternative navigation strategy can therefore ameliorate the deficits associated with impaired gravity detection.

Disciplines

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Pretraining Improves Egocentric Navigation Performance in Otoconia-Deficient Mice

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