Letter | Published:

Feature-detecting neurons in dragonflies

Nature volume 362, pages 541543 (08 April 1993) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

SINCE the earliest descriptions1 of the compound eye, the popular impression has prevailed that insects and mammals view the world differently. Recent work, however, underscores marked evolutionary convergence between the visual systems of vertebrates and insects at both optical2,3 and early processing levels4,5. Here I describe several classes of cells from the third optic ganglion of dragonflies that respond selectively to different target classes. Several physiological properties of these cells are remarkably similar to those of cells from areas 17,18 and 19 of the mammalian visual cortex. One class of bar-sensitive, orientation-biased cells could mediate discrimination of the orientation of low spatial frequency components of patterns. The existence of neurons functionally similar in many respects to those in the mammalian cortex suggests that evolutionary convergence in visual processing is not limited to early pathways. Insects, like mammals, seem to possess mechanisms for extracting spatial features from visual scenes.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Die Physiologie der Facettirten Augen von Krebsen und Insecten (1981) (Transl. Hardie, R. C, Springer, Berlin, 1989).

  2. 2.

    Handbook of Sensory Physiology VII/6A, 225–313 (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1979).

  3. 3.

    Handbook of Sensory Physiology VII/68, 471–592 (Springer, Berlin. Heidelberg, 1981).

  4. 4.

    Handbook of Sensory Physiology VII/6B, 135–280 (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1981).

  5. 5.

    , , & Trends Neurosci. 11, 351–358 (1988).

  6. 6.

    An Atlas of an Insect Brain (Springer, Berlin, 1976).

  7. 7.

    & , Cell Tiss. Res. 258, 441–475 (1989).

  8. 8.

    Neuronal Operations in the Visual Cortex (Springer, Berlin and Heidelberg, 1984).

  9. 9.

    & in Facets of Vision (eds Stavenga, D. G. & Hardie, R. C.) 391–444 (Springer, Berlin, 1989).

  10. 10.

    Nature 232, 127–130 (1971).

  11. 11.

    & in The Compound Eye and Vision in Insects (ed. Horridge, G. A.) 437–466 (Clarendon, Oxford, 1975).

  12. 12.

    , & J. exp. Biol. 68, 157–185 (1977).

  13. 13.

    Biol. Cybern. 52, 195–208 (1985).

  14. 14.

    J. comp. Physiol. A161, 431–440 (1987).

  15. 15.

    , & J. Neurophysiol. 41, 1071–1095 (1978).

  16. 16.

    in Handbook of Physiology- The Nervous System Vol. 3 (ed. Darian-Smith, I.) 341–344 (Am. Physiol. Soc, Bethesda, 1984).

  17. 17.

    & J. Physiol. 148, 574–591 (1959).

  18. 18.

    & J. Physiol. 160, 106–154 (1962).

  19. 19.

    & Biol. Cybern. 57, 349–355 (1987).

  20. 20.

    Biol. Cybern. 63, 135–142 (1990).

  21. 21.

    J. Insect. Physiol. 17, 1579–1591 (1971).

  22. 22.

    , & J. comp. Physiol. A167, 649–654 (1990).

  23. 23.

    J. comp. Physiol. A141, 327–334 (1981).

  24. 24.

    J. comp. Physiol. A159, 827–840 (1986).

Download references

Author information

Author notes

    • David O'Carroll

    Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK

Affiliations

  1. Centre for Visual Science, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, PO Box 475, Canberra 2601, Australia

    • David O'Carroll

Authors

  1. Search for David O'Carroll in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/362541a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.