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The optomotor response of the praying mantis is driven predominantly by the central visual field

Nityananda, Vivek, Tarawneh, Ghaith, Errington, Steven, Serrano-Pedraza, Ignacio, Read, Jenny
Journal of comparative physiology 2017 v.203 no.1 pp. 77-87
Mantidae, insects, models, probability
The optomotor response has been widely used to investigate insect sensitivity to contrast and motion. Several studies have revealed the sensitivity of this response to frequency and contrast, but we know less about the spatial integration underlying this response. Specifically, few studies have investigated how the horizontal angular extent of stimuli influences the optomotor response. We presented mantises with moving gratings of varying horizontal extents at three different contrasts in the central or peripheral regions of their visual fields. We assessed the relative effectivity of different regions to elicit the optomotor response and modelled the dependency of the response on the angular extent subtended by stimuli at these different regions. Our results show that the optomotor response is governed by stimuli in the central visual field and not in the periphery. The model also shows that in the central region, the probability of response increases linearly with increase in horizontal extent up to a saturation point. Furthermore, the dependency of the optomotor response on the angular extent of the stimulus is modulated by contrast. We discuss the implications of our results for different modes of stimulus presentation and for models of the underlying mechanisms of motion detection in the mantis.