The role of stripe orientation in target capture success
Hughes, Anna E.
Magor-Elliott, Richard S.
Frontiers in Zoology
© 2015 Hughes et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
‘Motion dazzle’ refers to the hypothesis that high contrast patterns such as stripes and zigzags may have evolved in a wide range of animals as they make it difficult to judge the trajectory of an animal in motion. Despite recent research into this idea, it is still unclear to what extent stripes interfere with motion judgement and if effects are seen, what visual processes might underlie them. We use human participants performing a touch screen task in which they attempt to ‘catch’ moving targets in order to determine whether stripe orientation affects capture success, as previous research has suggested that different stripe orientations may be processed differently by the visual system. We also ask whether increasing the number of targets presented in a trial can affect capture success, as previous research has suggested that motion dazzle effects may be larger in groups. Results: When single targets were presented sequentially within each trial, we find that perpendicular and oblique striped targets are captured at a similar rate to uniform grey targets, but parallel striped targets are significantly easier to capture. However, when multiple targets are present simultaneously during a trial, we find that striped targets are captured in fewer attempts and more quickly than grey targets. Conclusions: Our results suggest that there may be differences in capture success based on target pattern orientation, perhaps suggesting that different visual mechanisms are involved in processing of parallel stripes compared to perpendicular/oblique stripes. However, these results do not seem to generalise to trials with multiple targets, and contrary to previous predictions, striped targets appear to be easier to capture when multiple targets are present compared to being presented individually. These results suggest that the different orientations of stripes seen on animals in nature (such as in fish and snakes) may serve different purposes, and that it is unclear whether motion dazzle effects may have greater benefits for animals living in groups.
Open access journal
Vol. 12 (1), article 17