July 2019
Volume 19, Issue 8
Open Access
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Distinct visual features drive innate freezing versus approach behavior in mice in an experience dependent manner.
Author Affiliations
  • Nicole Procacci
    Biology, UNR
  • Rebecca Ijekah
    Biology, UNR
  • Jennifer Hoy
    Biology, UNR
Journal of Vision July 2019, Vol.19, 86. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/19.8.86
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      Nicole Procacci, Rebecca Ijekah, Jennifer Hoy; Distinct visual features drive innate freezing versus approach behavior in mice in an experience dependent manner.. Journal of Vision 2019;19(8):86. https://doi.org/10.1167/19.8.86.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Selective visual attention critically underlies our cognition and behavior. However, the specific cellular and synaptic mechanisms that support this aspect of visual processing remains unknown. The mouse model has recently emerged as a powerful tool for studying visual attention due to sophisticated genetic access that is used to identify causal relationships between neuronal activity and behavior. To further develop this model to study the mechanisms of selective visual attention, we sought to understand the natural behavioral contexts under which mice conditionally respond to visual stimuli. We quantified the behavior of mice after presenting 2-dimensional ellipses of systemically varying sizes or speeds on a computer monitor. Mice naturally froze in response to quickly moving, small stimuli in their mid to lower visual field, approached slower moving stimuli of the same size, and often failed to respond to stationary stimuli. To determine if these responses were modified by experience or state, we repeated our experiment with mice experienced in prey-capture, an ethological context that we thought relevant to these visual behaviors. Hunting experience reduced freezing to high-speed stimuli and increased approach frequency towards both high-speed and stationary stimuli. Furthermore, food deprivation modified stimulus driven behavior in both prey-capture experienced and naïve mice. Overall, this is the first demonstration that these specific visual stimuli evoke reliable, ethologically appropriate behavior in mice in an experience and state-dependent manner. Knowing which visual features naturally capture the attention of mice and when will inform studies of the basic mechanisms of attention and decision making in mice.


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