Auditory Virtual Reality for Insect Phonotaxis
Noriyasu Ando*1,*2, Hisashi Shidara*3, Naoto Hommaru*4, and Hiroto Ogawa*3
*1Department of Systems Life Engineering, Maebashi Institute of Technology
460-1 Kamisadori-cho, Maebashi, Gunma 371-0816, Japan
*2Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo
4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan
*3Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University
Kita 10, Nishi 8, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
*4Graduate School of Life Science, Hokkaido University
Kita 10, Nishi 8, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
Insects have a sophisticated ability to navigate real environments. Virtual reality (VR) is a powerful tool for analyzing animal navigation in laboratory studies and is the most successful when used in the study of visually guided behaviors. However, the use of VR with non-visual sensory information, such as sound, on which nocturnal insects rely, for analyzing animal navigation has not been fully studied. We developed an auditory VR for the study of auditory navigation in crickets, Gryllus bimaculatus. The system consisted of a spherical treadmill on which a tethered female cricket walked. Sixteen speakers were placed around the cricket for auditory stimuli. The two optical mice attached to the treadmill measured the cricket’s locomotion, and the sound pressure and direction of the auditory stimuli were controlled at 100 Hz based on the position and heading of the cricket relative to a sound source in a virtual arena. We demonstrated that tethered female crickets selectively responded to the conspecific male calling song and localized the sound source in a virtual arena, which was similar to the behavior of freely walking crickets. Further combinations of our system with neurophysiological techniques will help understand the neural mechanisms for insect auditory navigation.
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