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The Neurobiology of Spatial Behaviour$
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K.J. Jeffery

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198515241

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198515241.001.0001

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Contextual cues and insect navigation

Contextual cues and insect navigation

(p.67) Chapter 4 Contextual cues and insect navigation
The Neurobiology of Spatial Behaviour

Thomas S. Collett

Karine Fauria

Kyran Dale

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the use of non-spatial environmental information in navigation. It specifically concentrates on insects, which prove to have a remarkably elaborate spatial representation, and gives insights into the study of spatial behaviour. It begins by discussing different kinds of contextual cues and the evidence that insects use them. It also presents the experiments that were planned to evaluate the way in which contextual signals vary with distance from a site where both panoramic and local cues are gained. Moreover, it explores the process of obtaining relationships that should only be expressed in certain contexts, and the converse situation, in which an association that has been learnt in one context generalizes to another one. Throughout, it distinguishes between local cues, to which some action is linked, and contextual cues that modulate the insect's response to local cues. In general, it is demonstrated that insects are quite sophisticated in their capacity to apply context to modulate their spatial behaviour, using these cues to disambiguate other spatial features such as landmarks, to enable context-specific behaviours, and to retrieve memories.

Keywords:   contextual cues, insect navigation, spatial behaviour, landmarks, memories, local cues

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