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A Simple Strategy for Detecting Moving Objects during Locomotion Revealed by Animal-Robot Interactions

Zabala, Francisco and Polidoro, Peter and Robie, Alice and Branson, Kristin and Perona, Pietro and Dickinson, Michael H. (2012) A Simple Strategy for Detecting Moving Objects during Locomotion Revealed by Animal-Robot Interactions. Current Biology, 22 (14). pp. 1344-1350. ISSN 0960-9822. PMCID PMC4638419.

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[img] Video (MPEG) (Movie S1 - Sequence of Eight Programmed Trail Encounters between Fly and Robot) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Video (MPEG) (Movie S2 - Animations and Reconstructed “Fly's Eye View” of Example Experimental Trials) - Supplemental Material
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An important role of visual systems is to detect nearby predators, prey, and potential mates, which may be distinguished in part by their motion. When an animal is at rest, an object moving in any direction may easily be detected by motion-sensitive visual circuits. During locomotion, however, this strategy is compromised because the observer must detect a moving object within the pattern of optic flow created by its own motion through the stationary background. However, objects that move creating back-to-front (regressive) motion may be unambiguously distinguished from stationary objects because forward locomotion creates only front-to-back (progressive) optic flow. Thus, moving animals should exhibit an enhanced sensitivity to regressively moving objects. We explicitly tested this hypothesis by constructing a simple fly-sized robot that was programmed to interact with a real fly. Our measurements indicate that whereas walking female flies freeze in response to a regressively moving object, they ignore a progressively moving one. Regressive motion salience also explains observations of behaviors exhibited by pairs of walking flies. Because the assumptions underlying the regressive motion salience hypothesis are general, we suspect that the behavior we have observed in Drosophila may be widespread among eyed, motile organisms.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Branson, Kristin0000-0002-5567-2512
Perona, Pietro0000-0002-7583-5809
Dickinson, Michael H.0000-0002-8587-9936
Additional Information:© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Received: April 10, 2012; Revised: May 2, 2012; Accepted: May 11, 2012; Published online: June 21, 2012. We wish to thank Andrew Straw for his help with the design of experiments and the development of the software used to create the "fly’s eye view" in Movie S2. Peter Weir and Joel Levine provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Funding for this research was provided by US National Institutes of Health grant R01 DA022777 (M.H.D. and P.P.), US National Science Foundation grant 0623527 (M.H.D.), ONR MURI grant 1015-G-NA-127 (P.P.), and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (M.H.D.).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHR01 DA022777
Office of Naval Research (ONR)1015-G-NA-127
Paul G. Allen Family FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:14
PubMed Central ID:PMC4638419
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120827-095639871
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Francisco Zabala, Peter Polidoro, Alice Robie, Kristin Branson, Pietro Perona, Michael H. Dickinson, A Simple Strategy for Detecting Moving Objects during Locomotion Revealed by Animal-Robot Interactions, Current Biology, Volume 22, Issue 14, 24 July 2012, Pages 1344-1350, ISSN 0960-9822, 10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.024.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:33549
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:27 Aug 2012 18:26
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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