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Assembly and Function of the Visual System

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Front. Neural Circuits | doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00026

Eyes matched to the prize: the state of matched filters in insect visual circuits

 Rudy Behnia1*,  Jessica R. Kohn1 and Sarah L. Heath1
  • 1Columbia University, United States

Confronted with an ever-changing visual landscape, animals must be able to detect relevant stimuli and efficiently translate this information into behavioral output. A visual scene contains an abundance of information: to interpret the entirety of it would be uneconomical. To optimally perform this task, neural mechanisms exist to enhance the detection of important features of the sensory environment while simultaneously filtering out irrelevant information. This can be accomplished by using a circuit design that implements specific “matched filters” that are tuned to relevant stimuli. Following this rule, the well-characterized visual systems of insects have evolved to streamline feature extraction on both a structural and functional level. Here, we review examples of specialized visual microcircuits for vital behaviors across insect species, including feature detection, escape, and estimation of self-motion. Additionally, we discuss how these microcircuits are modulated to weigh relevant input with respect to different internal and behavioral states.

Keywords: Insects, neural circuit, Vision, Drosophila, Neuromodulation, Sensory circuit

Received: 11 Dec 2017; Accepted: 13 Mar 2018.

Edited by:

Carol Mason, Columbia University, United States

Reviewed by:

M Eugenia Chiappe, Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal
Eric Warrant, Lund University, Sweden
Simon G. Sprecher, University of Fribourg, Switzerland  

Copyright: © 2018 Behnia, Kohn and Heath. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Rudy Behnia, Columbia University, New York City, United States,