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Photoreceptor signalling is sufficient to explain the detectability threshold of insect aerial pursuers

  • Elisa Rigosi
  • Steven D. Wiederman
  • David C. O'Carroll
Publiceringsår: 2017-12-01
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 4364-4369
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Experimental Biology
Volym: 220
Nummer: 23
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: The Company of Biologists Ltd

Abstract english

An essential biological task for many flying insects is the detection of small, moving targets, such as when pursuing prey or conspecifics. Neural pathways underlying such 'target-detecting' behaviours have been investigated for their sensitivity and tuning properties (size, velocity). However, which stage of neuronal processing limits target detection is not yet known. Here, we investigated several skilled, aerial pursuers (males of four insect species), measuring the targetdetection limit (signal-to-noise ratio) of light-adapted photoreceptors. We recorded intracellular responses to moving targets of varying size, extended well below the nominal resolution of single ommatidia. We found that the signal detection limit (2× photoreceptor noise) matches physiological or behavioural target-detection thresholds observed in each species. Thus, across a diverse range of flying insects, individual photoreceptor responses to changes in light intensity establish the sensitivity of the feature detection pathway, indicating later stages of processing are dedicated to feature tuning, tracking and selection.


  • Zoology
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Feature detection
  • Retina
  • Signal-to-noise ratio
  • Target detection
  • Vision


  • ISSN: 0022-0949
Elisa Rigosi
E-post: elisa [dot] rigosi [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Funktionell zoologi

+46 46 222 97 32


Sölvegatan 35, Lund





Biträdande handledare

Bo Bekkouche


David O'Carroll