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Arthropod Struct Dev. 2008 Sep;37(5):347-62. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

Evolution of the central complex in the arthropod brain with respect to the visual system.

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  • 1Fachbereich Biologie, Tierphysiologie, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-Strass8, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


Modular midline neuropils, termed arcuate body (Chelicerata, Onychophora) or central body (Myriapoda, Crustacea, Insecta), are a prominent feature of the arthropod brain. In insects and crayfish, the central body is connected to a second midline-spanning neuropil, the protocerebral bridge. Both structures are collectively termed central complex. While some investigators have assumed that central and arcuate bodies are homologous, others have questioned this view. Stimulated by recent evidence for a role of the central complex in polarization vision and object recognition, the architectures of midline neuropils and their associations with the visual system were compared across panarthropods. In chelicerates and onychophorans, second-order neuropils subserving the median eyes are associated with the arcuate body. The central complex of decapods and insects, instead, receives indirect input from the lateral (compound) eye visual system, and connections with median eye (ocellar) projections are present. Together with other characters these data are consistent with a common origin of arcuate bodies and central complexes from an ancestral modular midline neuropil but, depending on the choice of characters, the protocerebral bridge or the central body shows closer affinity with the arcuate body. A possible common role of midline neuropils in azimuth-dependent sensory and motor tasks is discussed.

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