Vision and Visual Navigation in Nocturnal Insects.
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With their highly sensitive visual systems, nocturnal insects have evolved a remarkable capacity to discriminate colors, orient themselves using faint celestial cues, fly unimpeded through a complicated habitat, and navigate to and from a nest using learned visual landmarks. Even though the compound eyes of nocturnal insects are significantly more sensitive to light than those of their closely related diurnal relatives, their photoreceptors absorb photons at very low rates in dim light, even during demanding nocturnal visual tasks. To explain this apparent paradox, it is hypothesized that the necessary bridge between retinal signaling and visual behavior is a neural strategy of spatial and temporal summation at a higher level in the visual system. Exactly where in the visual system this summation takes place, and the nature of the neural circuitry that is involved, is currently unknown but provides a promising avenue for future research. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Entomology Volume 56 is December 03, 2010. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.