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Unraveling the neural basis of insect navigation

  • Stanley Heinze
Publishing year: 2017-12-01
Language: English
Pages: 58-67
Publication/Series: Current Opinion in Insect Science
Volume: 24
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

One of the defining features of animals is their ability to navigate their environment. Using behavioral experiments this topic has been under intense investigation for nearly a century. In insects, this work has largely focused on the remarkable homing abilities of ants and bees. More recently, the neural basis of navigation shifted into the focus of attention. Starting with revealing the neurons that process the sensory signals used for navigation, in particular polarized skylight, migratory locusts became the key species for delineating navigation-relevant regions of the insect brain. Over the last years, this work was used as a basis for research in the fruit fly Drosophila and extraordinary progress has been made in illuminating the neural underpinnings of navigational processes. With increasingly detailed understanding of navigation circuits, we can begin to ask whether there is a fundamentally shared concept underlying all navigation behavior across insects. This review highlights recent advances and puts them into the context of the behavioral work on ants and bees, as well as the circuits involved in polarized-light processing. A region of the insect brain called the central complex emerges as the common substrate for guiding navigation and its highly organized neuroarchitecture provides a framework for future investigations potentially suited to explain all insect navigation behavior at the level of identified neurons.


  • Zoology


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 2214-5745
Stanley Heinze
E-mail: stanley [dot] heinze [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

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