Pop-out in visual search of moving targets in the archer fish

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Pop-out in visual search reflects the capacity of observers to rapidly detect visual targets independent of the number of distracting objects in the background. Although it may be beneficial to most animals, pop-out behaviour has been observed only in mammals, where neural correlates are found in primary visual cortex as contextually modulated neurons that encode aspects of saliency. Here we show that archer fish can also utilize this important search mechanism by exhibiting pop-out of moving targets. We explore neural correlates of this behaviour and report the presence of contextually modulated neurons in the optic tectum that may constitute the neural substrate for a saliency map. Furthermore, we find that both behaving fish and neural responses exhibit additive responses to multiple visual features. These findings suggest that similar neural computations underlie pop-out behaviour in mammals and fish, and that pop-out may be a universal search mechanism across all vertebrates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6476
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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