Aho A-C, 1997, "Measuring frog visual acuity by a novel method" Perception 26 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Measuring frog visual acuity by a novel method
The sensory capabilities of animals have usually been measured either by lengthy conditioned discrimination procedures, or by using some specific unconditioned reflex. Amphibian visual acuity has previously been measured only by the latter type of method. Birukow's (1937 Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Physiologie 25 92 - 142) optomotor response experiments on the common frog (Rana temporaria) yielded an acuity of 4.3 cycles deg-1, which is surprisingly high in the sense that the retinal cell mosaics would suggest a substantially lower acuity. I have used a new method of measuring acuity based on the frog's prey-catching behaviour, a behaviour that has proved very useful for investigations of amphibian vision. Leopard frogs (R. pipiens) were presented with a stimulus screen where two patches of identical black/white vertical grating were seen through two small horizontal oval windows (left and right) in a large screen displaying a horizontal grating pattern. The windows were of `mealworm' size (18 mm long and 7 mm high, with the frog positioned 220 mm from the screen). One of the two vertical gratings was drifting in the window. If resolved, the movement triggered prey-catching behaviour in the frog: orienting, jumping towards the target, and even snapping. The spatial frequency of the two vertical gratings was varied, while the horizontal pattern of the screen was kept constant throughout the experiment. Orienting or jumping towards the moving grating was taken as an indication that the frog was able to resolve the spatial frequency in question. This method yielded a visual acuity of 2.8 cycles deg-1, which is in good agreement with the eye optics and the retinal grain of frogs (very similar for the common frog and the leopard frog). The method in itself implies that this is a `functional' acuity value.