Collision-avoidance: nature's many solutions

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Abstract

How does the brain sense looming danger? A new study shows that specialized visual neurons in pigeons carry out several different computations in parallel to analyze signals from approaching objects such as predators.

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Figure 1: Elementary kinematics of object approach on a collision course
Figure 2: To classify neurons into different groups, Sun and Frost1 compared the instantaneous firing rate (PSTHs) of their recorded neurons with different functions of time such as θ(t), ρ(t), and η(t) (in a1, b1 and c1, respectively) for different values of d/v (d1/v1 = 0.02 s, d2/v2 = 0.1 s, d3/v3 = 0.2 s in a-c).

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