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Rats purposefully use their whiskers in different ways to help navigate in the dark
Date:7/7/2014

the University of Sheffield, said: "A person moving around in the dark would likely use their hand and fingers to detect objects and obstacles in order to avoid banging into things. In a familiar environment, such as their own home, they might move faster pushing their hands out in front of them in case of unexpected collisions.

"This new research show that rats do much the same thing but using their facial whiskers. That is, they purposefully use their whisker to detect nearby objects and surfaces when moving slowly in unfamiliar environments, and push them out in front of themselves, to avoid collisions, when the environment is familiar and they want to move more quickly.

"All mammals except humans use facial whiskers as touch sensors. In humans we seem to have replaced this sense, in part, by being able to use our hand and fingers to feel our way.

"The rat puts its whiskers where it thinks it will get the most useful information, just as we do with our fingertips."


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Contact: Hannah Postles
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk
44-114-222-1046
University of Sheffield
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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