Figure-ground segmentation based on motion in the archerfish

Svetlana Volotsky, Ronen Segev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Figure-ground segmentation is a fundamental process in visual perception that involves separating visual stimuli into distinct meaningful objects and their surrounding context, thus allowing the brain to interpret and understand complex visual scenes. Mammals exhibit varying figure-ground segmentation capabilities, ranging from primates that can perform well on figure-ground segmentation tasks to rodents that perform poorly. To explore figure-ground segmentation capabilities in teleost fish, we studied how the archerfish, an expert visual hunter, performs figure-ground segmentation. We trained archerfish to discriminate foreground objects from the background, where the figures were defined by motion as well as by discontinuities in intensity and texture. Specifically, the figures were defined by grating, naturalistic texture, and random noise moving in counterphase with the background. The archerfish performed the task well and could distinguish between all three types of figures and grounds. Their performance was comparable to that of primates and outperformed rodents. These findings suggest the existence of a complex visual process in the archerfish visual system that enables the delineation of figures as distinct from backgrounds, and provide insights into object recognition in this animal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2024


  • Archerfish
  • Figure ground
  • Segmentation
  • Visual object recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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