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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2008 Jun;194(6):587-96. doi: 10.1007/s00359-008-0333-3. Epub 2008 Apr 4.

Neuronal correlates of the visually elicited escape response of the crab Chasmagnathus upon seasonal variations, stimuli changes and perceptual alterations.

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Laboratorio de Neurobiología de la Memoria, Depto Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


When confronted with predators, animals are forced to take crucial decisions such as the timing and manner of escape. In the case of the crab Chasmagnathus, cumulative evidence suggests that the escape response to a visual danger stimulus (VDS) can be accounted for by the response of a group of lobula giant (LG) neurons. To further investigate this hypothesis, we examined the relationship between behavioral and neuronal activities within a variety of experimental conditions that affected the level of escape. The intensity of the escape response to VDS was influenced by seasonal variations, changes in stimulus features, and whether the crab perceived stimuli monocularly or binocularly. These experimental conditions consistently affected the response of LG neurons in a way that closely matched the effects observed at the behavioral level. In other words, the intensity of the stimulus-elicited spike activity of LG neurons faithfully reflected the intensity of the escape response. These results support the idea that the LG neurons from the lobula of crabs are deeply involved in the decision for escaping from VDS.

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