Landmark-guided T-maze Learning in the Wolf Spider Tigrosa helluo

Tiffany Guth, (Matthew Persons), Biology Department, Neuroscience Program, Susquehanna University, 514 University Avenue, Selinsgrove, PA 17870

Wolf spiders can learn spatial navigation through simple maze tasks. It remains unclear if spatial learning is acquired through idiothetic information (i.e. self-referential movement cues) or if they use allothetic cues (e.g. external landmarks) to navigate. Spiders may also use specific types of landmarks to navigate known as reference frames. A reference frame is an environmental shape or boundary that provides a framework for spatial localization. Using a modified water T-maze, we recorded the ability of adult female Tigrosa helluo wolf spiders to correctly navigate toward a target reward (dark tube). We measured variation in spatial learning of the target location with and without a reference frame (patterned guide along the correct route). For each reference frame treatment, we tested females over ten consecutive trials whereby each subject had a maximum of thirty minutes to successfully achieve the target. We repeated training the following day for each subject for a total of 20 training trials over two days. For each trial we measured the latency to achieve the target, wrong turns, and number of reversions or path retracing. After the two days of trials, we reversed the reference frame to have it correspond to the incorrect path and measured reversal of path choice. Preliminary results indicate significantly shorter time to goal over subsequent trials with shorter mean latency to achieve target on the second day compared to the first and these effects were more pronounced when landmarks were present. Wolf spiders can learn simple T-maze navigation under our testing conditions but learning is enhanced when guiding landmark features are present. Collectively these results suggest that idiothetic cues are relatively less important for spatial navigation and that learned spatial navigation tasks are better retained over two days in the presence of reference frames.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Tiffany Guth

Institution: Susquehanna University

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 3
Date/Time: Mon 4:30pm-5:30pm
Session Number: 3041