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J Exp Zool. 1975 Oct;194(1):75-88.

Neural factors and evitability in insect behavior.


Compared with more complex behavior patterns involving goal selection, evasive behavior of prey animals elicited by the presence of a natural predator is usually considered to be relatively inevitable and stereotyped. Noctuid moths, while flying in the field at night, show two types of evasive response pattern when their tympanic organs detect the ultrasonic cries of marauding insectivorous bats. Since sound is the sole communication channel between prey and predator, this situation invites neurophysiological and behavioral analysis. When, in the course of studying this behavior, moths are removed by stages from the natural circumstances of this interaction their evasion responses become much less invariant; that is, more evitable. The possible survival value of some evitability in this behavior under natural circumstances is discussed. The afferent nerve response of the noctuid auditory organ is highly stable; therefore, the source or sources of this evitability must lie down-stream in the moth central nervous system. Acoustic interneuronal systems within the thoracic ganglia and the brain have been examined for lapses in responsiveness and for other indications of transsynaptic instability that might correlate with the demonstrated behavioral evitability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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