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J Comp Physiol A. 2001 Mar;187(2):115-29.

Activity of descending contralateral movement detector neurons and collision avoidance behaviour in response to head-on visual stimuli in locusts.

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Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada.


We recorded the activity of the right and left descending contralateral movement detectors responding to 10-cm (small) or 20-cm (large) computer-generated spheres approaching along different trajectories in the locust's frontal field of view. In separate experiments we examined the steering responses of tethered flying locusts to identical stimuli. The descending contralateral movement detectors were more sensitive to variations in target trajectory in the horizontal plane than in the vertical plane. Descending contralateral movement detector activity was related to target trajectory and to target size and was most sensitive to small objects converging on a direct collision course from above and to one side. Small objects failed to induce collision avoidance manoeuvres whereas large objects produced reliable collision avoidance responses. Large targets approaching along a converging trajectory produced steering responses that were either away from or toward the side of approach of the object, whereas targets approaching along trajectories that were offset from the locust's mid-longitudinal body axis primarily evoked responses away from the target. We detected no differences in the discharge properties of the descending contralateral movement detector pair that could account for the different collision avoidance behaviours evoked by varying the target size and trajectories. We suggest that descending contralateral movement detector properties are better suited to predator evasion than collision avoidance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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