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Research maze puts images on floor, where rodents look
Date:2/26/2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] A rodent in a maze is a staple even a stereotype of experimental psychology research. But the maze in the lab of Rebecca Burwell, professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences at Brown University, is not your grandfather's apparatus. In a new video article published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, Burwell's research group demonstrates in full detail how the maze can be used to perform automated visual cognitive research tasks with great efficiency.

The article is available here: http://www.jove.com/video/51316/automated-visual-cognitive-tasks-for-recording-neural-activity-using

The maze is part real and part virtual. There are actual walls often in the shape of a giant piece of farfalle but researchers can project any imagery they want onto the floor from below. The use of digital projections makes the maze versatile, but using the floor for projections makes it particularly well-designed for rodent subjects.

"We've known since Lashley's classic studies on the mechanisms of vision that rats pay more attention to stimuli presented near the ground, but the field has persisted in presenting vertical 2-D images or 3-D objects," Burwell said. "What's new is the idea that presentation of images to the ground is the best way to present stimuli to rats and mice. Rodents do not have a fovea [a small depression in the retina where visual acuity is highest] like primates do, but they do have more retinal ganglion cells and photoreceptors in the upper retina, indicating that they can see items in the lower visual field better."

So while human subjects participating in visual psychology experiments look forward at a screen, for instance and explore by looking around, the equivalent for a mouse or rat is to look down and explore by mov
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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