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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2010 Dec;196(12):927-38. doi: 10.1007/s00359-010-0576-7. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

A pair of motion-sensitive neurons in the locust encode approaches of a looming object.

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Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada.


Neurons in the locust visual system encode approaches of looming stimuli and are implicated in production of escape behaviours. The lobula giant movement detector (LGMD) and its postsynaptic partner, the descending contralateral movement detector (DCMD) compute characteristics of expanding edges across the locust eye during a loom and DCMD synapses onto motor elements associated with behaviour. We identified another descending interneuron within the locust ventral nerve cord. We named this neuron the late DCMD (LDCMD) as it responds later during an approach, with the firing rate peaking at about the time of collision. LDCMD produced lower amplitude, broader action potentials that were associated with an afterhyperpolarization, whereas DCMD action potentials showed a brief afterhyperpolarization often followed by an afterdepolarization. Within the mesothoracic ganglion, the primary LDCMD axon located adjacent to the DCMD axon, was thinner and lacked collateral projections to the lateral region of the neuropil. When compared with DCMD, LDCMD fired with fewer spikes during a loom and showed weaker habituation to repeated approaches. Coincidence of LDCMD and DCMD firing increased during object approach. Our findings indicate the presence of an additional motion-sensitive descending neuron in the locust that encodes temporally distinct properties of an approaching object.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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