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Trends Neurosci. 1989 Sep;12(9):353-9.

Neurobiology of polarization vision.


Insects can perceive the pattern of polarized light (e-vector pattern) in the sky and use it as a compass. To accomplish this navigational task they employ a specialized part of the retina in which the polarization analysers (ultraviolet receptors) are arranged in a way that mimics, by and large, the distribution of e-vector directions in the sky. By sweeping this 'matched polarization filter's across the sky, the insect translates the complex spatial information provided by the celestial e-vector patterns into rather simple temporal modulations of summed receptor outputs. This mechanism provides a striking example of peripheral coding by matched filtering in sensory systems.

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