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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 19;9(11):e113012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113012. eCollection 2014.

Neuromechanism study of insect-machine interface: flight control by neural electrical stimulation.

Author information

1
College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
2
Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies (QAAS), Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
3
The Private University of Liechtenstein, Dorfstrasse 24, Triesen, Liechtenstein.
4
Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies (QAAS), Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
5
Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies (QAAS), Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; Key Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering of Ministry of Education, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

Abstract

The insect-machine interface (IMI) is a novel approach developed for man-made air vehicles, which directly controls insect flight by either neuromuscular or neural stimulation. In our previous study of IMI, we induced flight initiation and cessation reproducibly in restrained honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) via electrical stimulation of the bilateral optic lobes. To explore the neuromechanism underlying IMI, we applied electrical stimulation to seven subregions of the honeybee brain with the aid of a new method for localizing brain regions. Results showed that the success rate for initiating honeybee flight decreased in the order: α-lobe (or β-lobe), ellipsoid body, lobula, medulla and antennal lobe. Based on a comparison with other neurobiological studies in honeybees, we propose that there is a cluster of descending neurons in the honeybee brain that transmits neural excitation from stimulated brain areas to the thoracic ganglia, leading to flight behavior. This neural circuit may involve the higher-order integration center, the primary visual processing center and the suboesophageal ganglion, which is also associated with a possible learning and memory pathway. By pharmacologically manipulating the electrically stimulated honeybee brain, we have shown that octopamine, rather than dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine, plays a part in the circuit underlying electrically elicited honeybee flight. Our study presents a new brain stimulation protocol for the honeybee-machine interface and has solved one of the questions with regard to understanding which functional divisions of the insect brain participate in flight control. It will support further studies to uncover the involved neurons inside specific brain areas and to test the hypothesized involvement of a visual learning and memory pathway in IMI flight control.

PMID:
25409523
PMCID:
PMC4237392
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0113012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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