Snails & Hearing: Recapitulation & Results

Hypothesis: Snails can differentiate frequencies of sound.

Process: Over the duration of 6 days, four snails were tested after having 8 days of training to associate reward with the left or right side of a y-maze depending on the frequency of a sine wave. The side is assigned from the view of the experimenter (looking at the maze from the viewpoint of the reward). When the reward was on the left side, the sound played at 130hz, within the average male voice range. When the reward was offered on the right side, the sound played at 220hz, within the average female voice range. There was no control and many variables. Nonetheless, the results are provided here.

Analysis & Results:

Benchmarks were determined as nil (did not go any direction), three goal positive behaviors (head goes in goal side first, body goes in goal side first, body reaches goal cap), and three goal negative behaviors (head goes in non-goal side first, body goes in non-goal side first, body reaches non-goal cap). Only one snail would go down one way and then the other and e only did each way once so I cancelled out those data points. Another issue was on the last day, one of the caps came off completely and I didn’t see for several minutes, making the last of Dr. Strange’s runs useless, so they were removed from the final results.

I have here three charts. The first is showing behaviors by day, the second is behaviors by snail, and the third is overall number of behaviors.


This data shows 58.7% goal positive behaviors, 21.7% goal negative behaviors, and 19.6% nil behaviors. Or 58.7% goal positive behaviors and 41.3% other behaviors. Due to this majority of goal positive behaviors, it seems that there is indication that snails may be able to differentiate between sound frequencies.

Raw data from all 6 days:  snailnotes9-sept7, snailnotes10-sept8, snailnotes11-sept9, snailnotes12-sept10, snailnotes13-sept11, snailnotes14-sept12

Follow up:

More study is necessary to render stronger evidence of whether or not snails can differentiate between sound frequencies through testing with more snails and fewer variables. In the next months (hopefully by January), I propose to try this experiment again with a more refined maze, sound proofed (or at least reduced) environment, better speakers, video recording of events, and more snails: 12 test snails and 2 controls. Before training, snails will be screened so that fewer (or none) are eliminated during training. More details to come.

Additionally, advice from other scientists is requested! I would like advice on better analysis techniques and/or benchmarks, recommended statistics or other tools to improve the fidelity of the experiment.


Featured photo of this jewelry.





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