How visual edge features influence cuttlefish camouflage patterning

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Rapid adaptive camouflage is the primary defense of soft-bodied cuttlefish. Previous studies have shown that cuttlefish body patterns are strongly influenced by visual edges in the substrate. The aim of the present study was to examine how cuttlefish body patterning is differentially controlled by various aspects of edges, including contrast polarity, contrast strength, and the presence or absence of "line terminators" introduced into a pattern when continuous edges are fragmented. Spatially high- and low-pass filtered white or black disks, as well as isolated, continuous and fragmented edges varying in contrast, were used to assess activation of cuttlefish skin components. Although disks of both contrast polarities evoked relatively weak disruptive body patterns, black disks activated different skin components than white disks, and high-frequency information alone sufficed to drive the responses to white disks whereas high- and low-frequency information were both required to drive responses to black disks. Strikingly, high-contrast edge fragments evoked substantially stronger body pattern responses than low-contrast edge fragments, whereas the body pattern responses evoked by high-contrast continuous edges were no stronger than those produced by low-contrast edges. This suggests that line terminators vs. continuous edges influence expression of disruptive body pattern components via different mechanisms that are controlled by contrast in different ways. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.




Chiao, C. C., Ulmer, K. M., Siemann, L. A., Buresch, K. C., Chubb, C., & Hanlon, R. T. (2013). How visual edge features influence cuttlefish camouflage patterning. Vision Research, 83, 40–47.

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