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J Exp Biol. 2001 Jul;204(Pt 14):2589-96.

Polarization vision--a uniform sensory capacity?

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Zoologisches Institut der Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


In this concept paper, three scenarios are described in which animals make use of polarized light: the underwater world, the water surface and the terrestrial habitat vaulted by the pattern of polarized light in the sky. Within these various visual environments, polarized light is used in a number of ways that make quite different demands on the neural circuitries mediating these different types of behaviour. Apart from some common receptor and pre-processing mechanisms, the underlying neural mechanisms may differ accordingly. Often, information about chi (the angle of polarization), d (the degree of polarization) and lambda (the spectral content) might not --and need not--be disentangled. Hence, the hypothesis entertained in this account is that polarization vision comes in various guises, and that the answer to the question posed in the title is most probably no.

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