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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Apr;22(2):285-93. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.12.008. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Visual homing: an insect perspective.

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ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Bld 46, Biology Place, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


The ability to learn the location of places in the world and to revisit them repeatedly is crucial for all aspects of animal life on earth. It underpins animal foraging, predator avoidance, territoriality, mating, nest construction and parental care. Much theoretical and experimental progress has recently been made in identifying the sensory cues and the computational mechanisms that allow insects (and robots) to find their way back to places, while the neurobiological mechanisms underlying navigational abilities are beginning to be unravelled in vertebrate and invertebrate models. Studying visual homing in insects is interesting, because they allow experimentation and view-reconstruction under natural conditions, because they are likely to have evolved parsimonious, yet robust solutions to the homing problem and because they force us to consider the viewpoint of navigating animals, including their sensory and computational capacities.

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