The role of ocelli in cockroach optomotor performance
Honkanen, Anna; Saari, Paulus; Takalo, Jouni; Heimonen, Kyösti; Weckström, Matti (2017-11-30)
Honkanen, A., Saari, P., Takalo, J. et al. J Comp Physiol A (2018) 204: 231. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-017-1235-z
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Insect ocelli are relatively simple eyes that have been assigned various functions not related to pictorial vision. In some species they function as sensors of ambient light intensity, from which information is relayed to various parts of the nervous system, e.g., for the control of circadian rhythms. In this work we have investigated the possibility that the ocellar light stimulation changes the properties of the optomotor performance of the cockroach Periplaneta americana. We used a virtual reality environment where a panoramic moving image is presented to the cockroach while its movements are recorded with a trackball. Previously we have shown that the optomotor reaction of the cockroach persists down to the intensity of moonless night sky, equivalent to less than 0.1 photons/s being absorbed by each compound eye photoreceptor. By occluding the compound eyes, the ocelli, or both, we show that the ocellar stimulation can change the intensity dependence of the optomotor reaction, indicating involvement of the ocellar visual system in the information processing of movement. We also measured the cuticular transmission, which, although relatively large, is unlikely to contribute profoundly to ocellar function, but may be significant in determining the mean activity level of completely blinded cockroaches.
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