Orienting and avoidance turning are precisely computed by the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea californica McFarland

Liudmila S. Yafremava, Christopher W. Anthony, Laura Lane, Jessica K. Campbell, Rhanor Gillette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computing the direction and amplitude of orienting and avoidance turns is fundamental to prey pursuit and risk avoidance in motile foragers. We examined computation of turns in the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea californica, observing orienting and aversive turn responses to chemotactile stimuli applied to the chemosensory oral veil. We made seven observations: (1) the relation of turn angle/stimulus site on the oral veil was linear; (2) turn amplitudes increased with stimulus strength; (3) turn responses markedly overshot the target stimulus; (4) responses to two simultaneous stimuli at different loci were averaged to an intermediate angle; (5) stimuli could induce sequential turns in which the angles of the first and third turns were similar, a form of working memory; (6) turn direction was affected by appetitive state, so that animals with higher feeding thresholds tended to avoid appetitive stimuli; and (7) avoidance turns induced by mildly noxious stimuli were computed similarly to orienting, while differing in direction. These observations appear to outline a framework of behavior that could be employed for efficient tracking of odor trails, and which is regulated by decision mechanisms that integrate sensation, internal state and experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-569
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Decision
  • Odor tracking
  • Orienting
  • Trailing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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