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Progression and stop organization reveals conservation of movement organization during dark exploration across rats and mice

Donaldson, T.N., Jennings, K.T., Cherep, L.A., Blankenship, P.A., Blackwell, A.A., Yoder, R.M., Wallace, D.G.
Behavioural processes 2019 v.162 pp. 29-38
heading, information sources, interspecific variation, mice, neurophysiology, rats
Spatial orientation is a ubiquitous feature of animal behavior. Environmental and self-movement cues are sources of information used to maintain spatial orientation. The literature has typically focused on differences between mice and rats using environmental cues to guide movement. The current study uses the organization of exploratory behavior under dark conditions to investigate species differences in self-movement cue processing. Mouse and rat exploratory behavior was recorded under dark conditions on a circular table without walls. The resulting movements were segmented in progressions (movement ≥ 3 cm/s) and stops (movement < 3 cm/s). Mice exhibited longer travel distances, faster progression peak speeds, and weaker tendency to scale progression peak speeds to Euclidean distances relative to rats. In contrast, similar levels of performance were observed on measures (progression path circuity, change in heading, stability of stopping behavior) sensitive to vestibular pathology. These results are consistent with species differences in a variety of performance variables; however, self-movement cue based spatial orientation did not differentiate between mice and rats. This work establishes a translational foundation for future work investigating the neurobiology of self-movement cue processing using species-unique neuroscience techniques.