Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rats' Senses A Whisker Away From Humans

Date:
February 15, 2007
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
The sophisticated way in which rats use their whiskers in their surrounding environments show significant parallels with how humans use their fingertips, according to new research carried out at the University of Sheffield.

High-speed video photograph of a rat exploring a wall with its facial whiskers. The whiskers on the right lightly touch against the wall whilst those on the left move further than usual as the animal tries to make contact with the surface on all of its whiskers. (Image courtesy of University of Sheffield)
Credit: University of Sheffield

The sophisticated way in which rats use their whiskers in their surrounding environments show significant parallels with how humans use their fingertips, according to new research carried out at the University of Sheffield.

Related Articles


Rats are tactile animals that use their facial whiskers as their primary sense. These whiskers are swept back and forth, or `whisked´ many times each second. Research carried out by Dr Tony Prescott and colleagues from the University´s Department of Psychology found that these whisker movements are actively controlled like human fingertips.

They found that whiskers near a point of contact subsequently move less, while those away from it move more. This active control of whiskers, allows a rat to `home-in´ on interesting objects in their environment, while ensuring that their whiskers touch gently against objects rather than bending strongly against them.

Until now, the understanding of what guides whisker movements during natural behaviour was limited, largely due to the difficulty of accurately observing whisker positions in freely moving animals. The researchers, however, used high-speed video and recordings of muscle activity to study how `whisking´ behaviour in rats changes upon contact with an object.

Dr Tony Prescott said: "If you are exploring a surface with your hand you will control the position of your fingertips so as to get as much information as possible from each touch. We are discovering that rats do something very similar with their whiskers. That is, they adjust the movements of their whiskers on a moment-by-moment basis using information from each contact to decide how best to position their whiskers for the next one."

The researchers are currently working with Bristol Robotics Laboratory to build a robot with an artificial whisker sense in order to better understand rat whisking behaviour and to develop artificial touch systems that may be useful for robots.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Rats' Senses A Whisker Away From Humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215113020.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2007, February 15). Rats' Senses A Whisker Away From Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215113020.htm
University of Sheffield. "Rats' Senses A Whisker Away From Humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215113020.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) — For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) — An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) — The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins