Zebrafish responds differentially to a robotic fish of varying aspect ratio, tail beat frequency, noise, and color
ABSTRACT In this paper, we present a bioinspired robotic fish designed to modulate the behavior of live fish. Specifically, we experimentally study the response of zebrafish to a robotic fish of varying size, color pattern, tail beat frequency, and acoustic signature in a canonical preference test. In this dichotomous experimental protocol, focal fish residing in the center focal compartment of a three-chambered test tank are confronted with pairs of competing stimuli, including various robots and the empty compartment, and their position is observed over time to measure preference. Fish behavior is classified into three main locomotory patterns to further dissect the complex behavior of zebrafish interacting with robots. A total of twelve experimental conditions is studied to isolate the effect of different elements of the robot design and provide general techniques for enhancing the attraction of zebrafish. We find that matching the aspect ratio and the visual appearance of the robotic fish with the target species increases the attraction experienced by zebrafish. We also find that the robot's tail beat frequency does not play a dominant role on fish attraction, suggesting that this parameter could be optimized based on engineering needs rather than biological cues. On the other hand, we find that varying the aspect ratio and coloration of the robot strongly influences fish preference.
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ABSTRACT: Vision is of primary importance for many fish species, as is the recognition of movement. With the exception of one study, assessing the influence of conspecific movement on shoaling behaviour, the perception of biological motion in fish had not been studied in a cognitive context. The aim of the present study was therefore to assess the discrimination abilities of two teleost species in regard to simple and complex movement patterns of dots and objects, including biological motion patterns using point and point-light displays (PDs and PLDs). In two-alternative forced-choice experiments, in which choosing the designated positive stimulus was food-reinforced, fish were first tested in their ability to distinguish the video of a stationary black dot on a light background from the video of a moving black dot presented at different frequencies and amplitudes. While all fish succeeded in learning the task, performance declined with decreases in either or both parameters. In subsequent tests, cichlids and damselfish distinguished successfully between the videos of two dots moving at different speeds and amplitudes, between two moving dot patterns (sinus vs. expiring sinus) and between animated videos of two moving organisms (trout vs. eel). Transfer tests following the training of the latter showed that fish were unable to identify the positive stimulus (trout) by means of its PD alone, thereby indicating that the ability of humans to spontaneously recognize an organism based on its biological motion may not be present in fish. All participating individuals successfully discriminated between two PDs and two PLDs after a short period of training, indicating that biological motions presented in form of PLDs are perceived and can be distinguished. Results were the same for the presentation of dark dots on a light background and light dots on a dark background.Animal Cognition 05/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10071-015-0876-y · 2.63 Impact Factor
Article: Bioinspiring an Interest in STEM[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Attracting K-12 students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is viewed as a critical element for benefiting both the economy and society. This paper describes an outreach program, conducted in a Brooklyn, NY, USA, public middle school, aimed at educating students in mechatronics, biology, and bioinspiration. The program is designed to foster student interest in STEM subjects, especially engineering-related concepts, by actively demonstrating their application in solving tangible real-world problems. It consists of a series of lectures and practical activities that culminate with a hands-on bioinspiration-based event at the New York Aquarium. Survey results show that students who participated in the program have a better understanding of the relationship between engineering and nature, demonstrate improved knowledge of select STEM topics, and are more interested in pursuing STEM careers.IEEE Transactions on Education 02/2015; 58(1):48-55. DOI:10.1109/TE.2014.2324533 · 1.22 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Emotional disturbances constitute a major health issue affecting a considerable portion of the population in western countries. In this context, animal models offer a relevant tool to address the underlying biological determinants and to screen novel therapeutic strategies. While rodents have traditionally constituted the species of choice, zebrafish are now becoming a viable alternative. As zebrafish gain momentum in biomedical sciences, considerable efforts are being devoted to developing high-throughput behavioral tests. Here, we present a comparative study of zebrafish behavioral response to fear-evoking stimuli offered via three alternative methodologies. Specifically, in a binary-choice test, we exposed zebrafish to an allopatric predator Astronotus ocellatus, presented in the form of a live subject, a robotic replica, and a computer-animated image. The robot's design and operation were inspired by the morphology and tail-beat motion of its live counterpart, thereby offering a consistent three-dimensional stimulus to focal fish. The computer-animated image was also designed after the live subject to replicate its appearance. We observed that differently from computer-animated images, both the live predator and its robotic replica elicited robust avoidance response in zebrafish. In addition, in response to the robot, zebrafish exhibited increased thrashing behavior, which is considered a valid indicator of fear. Finally, inter-individual response to a robotic stimulus is more consistent than that shown in response to live stimuli and animated images, thereby increasing experimental statistical power. Our study supports the view that robotic stimuli can constitute a promising experimental tool to elicit targeted behavioral responses in zebrafish.Zebrafish 03/2015; DOI:10.1089/zeb.2014.1041 · 1.77 Impact Factor