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Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 3;24(21):2580-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.029. Epub 2014 Oct 9.

Visual perception in the brain of a jumping spider.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; Division of Systems Neurology and Neuroscience, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA; Tri-Institutional Training Program in Computational Biology and Medicine, 1300 York Avenue, Box 194, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. Electronic address:


Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are renowned for a behavioral repertoire that can seem more vertebrate, or even mammalian, than spider-like in character. This is made possible by a unique visual system that supports their stalking hunting style and elaborate mating rituals in which the bizarrely marked and colored appendages of males highlight their song-and-dance displays. Salticids perform these tasks with information from four pairs of functionally specialized eyes, providing a near 360° field of view and forward-looking spatial resolution surpassing that of all insects and even some mammals, processed by a brain roughly the size of a poppy seed. Salticid behavior, evolution, and ecology are well documented, but attempts to study the neurophysiological basis of their behavior had been thwarted by the pressurized nature of their internal body fluids, making typical physiological techniques infeasible and restricting all previous neural work in salticids to a few recordings from the eyes. We report the first survey of neurophysiological recordings from the brain of a jumping spider, Phidippus audax (Salticidae). The data include single-unit recordings in response to artificial and naturalistic visual stimuli. The salticid visual system is unique in that high-acuity and motion vision are processed by different pairs of eyes. We found nonlinear interactions between the principal and secondary eyes, which can be inferred from the emergence of spatiotemporal receptive fields. Ecologically relevant images, including prey-like objects such as flies, elicited bursts of excitation from single units.

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