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J Neurophysiol. 1992 Nov;68(5):1667-82.

Orthopteran DCMD neuron: a reevaluation of responses to moving objects. II. Critical cues for detecting approaching objects.

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Division of Neurobiology, School of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


1. We examine the critical image cues that are used by the locust visual system for the descending contralateral motion detector (DCMD) neuron to distinguish approaching from receding objects. Images were controlled by computer and presented on an electrostatic monitor. 2. Changes in overall luminance elicited much smaller and briefer responses from the DCMD than objects that appeared to approach the eye. Although a decrease in overall luminance might boost the response to an approaching dark object, movement of edges of the image is more important. 3. When two pairs of lines, in a cross-hairs configuration, were moved apart and then together again, the DCMD showed no preference for divergence compared with convergence of edges. A directional response was obtained by either making the lines increase in extent during divergence and decrease in extent during convergence; or by continually increasing the velocity of line movement during divergence and decreasing velocity during convergence. 4. The DCMD consistently gave a larger response to growing than to shrinking solid rectangular images. An increase compared with a decrease in the extent of edge in an image is, therefore, an important cue for the directionality of the response. For single moving edges of fixed extent, the neuron gave the largest response to edges that subtended 15 degrees at the eye. 5. The DCMD was very sensitive to the amount by which an edge traveled between frames on the display screen, with the largest responses generated by 2.5 degrees of travel. This implies that the neurons in the optic lobe that drive this movement-detecting system have receptive fields of about the same extent as a single ommatidium. 6. For edges moving up to 250 degree/s, the excitation of the DCMD increases with velocity. The response to an edge moving at a constant velocity adapts rapidly, in a manner that depends on velocity. Movement over one part of the retina can adapt the subsequent response to movement over another part of the retina. 7. For the DCMD to track and continue to respond to the image of an approaching object, the edges of the image must continually increase in velocity. This is the second important stimulus cue. 8. Edges of opposite contrasts (light-dark compared with dark-light) are processed in separate pathways that inhibit each other. This would contribute to the reduction of responses to wide-field movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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