Navigation Links
Ladder-walking locusts show big brains aren't always best
Date:12/24/2009

Scientists have shown for the first time that insects, like mammals, use vision rather than touch to find footholds. They made the discovery thanks to high-speed video cameras technology the BBC uses to capture its stunning wildlife footage that they used to film desert locusts stepping along the rungs of a miniature ladder.

The study sheds new light on insects' ability to perform complex tasks, such as visually-guided limb control, usually associated with mammals.

According to lead author Dr Jeremy Niven of the University of Cambridge: "This is another example of insects performing a behaviour we previously thought was restricted to relatively big-brained animals with sophisticated motor control such as humans, monkeys or octopuses."

Because insects such as bees and flies spend a lot of time flying, most research has concentrated on how insects use vision during flight. Many insects that spend a lot of time walking, such as stick insects, crickets and cockroaches have relatively small eyes and use long antennae to 'feel' their way through the environment.

Locusts spend time both walking and flying, and have short antennae and large eyes, which made Niven wonder whether they used vision to find footholds.

To answer this question, the team built a miniature locust-sized ladder and filmed the locusts walking along it. They counted the number of times the locusts missed steps, comparing the number of mistakes they made in different situations.

"By combining all these different experiments, we showed that locusts use vision to place their legs. We showed that when locusts can't see one front leg they stop using that leg to reach to the next ladder rung, favouring the leg they can see," Niven explains.

"Big-brained mammals have more neurons in their visual systems than a locust has in its entire nervous system, so our results show that small brains can perform complex tasks. Insects show us how different animals have evolved totally different strategies for doing similar tasks," he says.

As well as illustrating how insects can achieve similar results to mammals by using simpler mechanisms, the findings deepen our understanding of locusts' neural circuits.

This is important because locusts have been a model organism for studying limb control for the past 40 years. Insects such as the locust have been crucial to many breakthroughs in neuroscience, and insects are often the inspiration for limb control in robotics.


'/>"/>

Contact: Becky Allen
becky.allen@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-750-088-3644
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Whats bugging locusts?
2. Doctors learn to control their own brains pain responses to better treat patients
3. From brains to behavior: Cold Spring Harbor Protocols features methods for neuroscience research
4. Brains R Us: Neuroscience and education town hall
5. Big brains arose twice in higher primates
6. The satellite navigation in our brains
7. Old and young brains rely on different systems to remember emotional content
8. Rice University psychologist finds womens brains recognize, encode smell of male sexual sweat
9. Our brains make their own marijuana: Were all pot heads deep inside
10. Snakes and how they helped our big brains evolve
11. Monkey brains signal the desire to explore
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/22/2017)... , Feb. 22, 2017 With ... 2021, ABI Research identifies four technologies that innovative ... to secure significant share in the changing competitive ... and passive authentication.   "Companies can ... comes to security," says Dimitrios Pavlakis , ...
(Date:2/13/2017)... 2017  RSA Conference -- RSA, a Dell Technologies ... to enhance fraud detection and investigation across digital ... Fraud & Risk Intelligence Suite. The new platform ... insights from internal and external sources as well ... customers from targeted cybercrime attacks. "Fraudsters ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... 7, 2017  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE ), ... financial results for its quarter and year ended December 31, ... 2016 was $3.9 million compared to $6.9 million in the ... of 2016 was $0.6 million compared to $2.6 million in ... quarter of 2016 was $0.5 million, or $0.02 per diluted ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... 2017  BioPharmX Corporation (NYSE MKT: BPMX), a ... market, today reported financial results for the quarter ... provide an update on the company,s clinical development ... "We are pleased to report that last year ... President Anja Krammer. "We achieved key clinical milestones ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Kineta, Inc., a biotechnology company focused ... immuno-oncology, today announced the discovery and characterization of ... activate interferon response factor 3 (IRF3) via RIG-I ... regression in a murine colon carcinoma mouse model.  ... tumor regression to initial drug treatment were resistant ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 2017 According to a report by Transparency ... fragmented due to the presence of a large pool of participants; ... Fisher , and Sigma-Aldrich, compete with each other in this market. ... more than 76% of this market in 2016.  ... As of now, a large number ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 In today,s pre-market ... in the Biotech industry: Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO), ... MKT: SYN), and Regulus Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Credit Suisse upgraded its rating on Pharmaceuticals/Biotechnology to "Overweight" from "Market Weight." ... report at: ...
Breaking Biology Technology: