Science

Tiny glasses help reveal how praying mantises can see in 3-D

A praying mantis depends on precision targeting when hunting insects. Now, scientists have identified nerve cells that help calculate the depth perception required for these predators surgical strikes.

In addition to providing clues about insect vision, the principles of these cells behavior, described June 28 in Nature Communications, may also lead to advances in robot vision or other automated systems.

So far, praying mantises are the only insects known to be able to see in 3-D. In the new study, neuroscientist Ronny Rosner of Newcastle University in England and colleagues used a tiny theater that played praying mantises favorite films — moving disks that mimic bugs. The disks appeared in three dimensions because the insects eyes were covered with different colored filters, creating minuscule 3-D glasses.

As a praying mantis watched the films, electrodes monitored the behavior of individual nerve cells in the optic lobe, a brain structure responsible for many aspects of vision. There, researchers found four types of nerve cells that seem to help merge the two different views from each eye into a complete 3-D picture, a skill that human vision cells use to sense depth, too.

One cell type called a TAOpro neuron possesses three elaborate, fan-shaped bundles that receive incoming visual information. Along with the thrRead More – Source

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