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

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift


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.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Adelaide

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Zoologi


Sidor (från-till)4364-4369
Antal sidor6
TidskriftJournal of Experimental Biology
StatusPublished - 2017 dec 1
Peer review utfördJa