UCL Division of Biosciences


CDB Seminar Series - Dr Vivek Nityananda - 14 February 2019

14 February 2019, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

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Title: "Stereo vision and prey detection in the praying mantis"
Speaker: Dr Vivek Nityananda - Research Associate, Newcastle University (research profile)
Venue: Gavin de Beer LT, Anatomy Building (map)
Host: Professor Steve Wilson (email)

Abstract: Praying mantises are the only insects known to have stereo vision. Stereopsis in mantises could have evolved to enable camouflage-breaking and the detection of prey in complex visual scenes, as has been argued for vertebrates. We tested this ability by presenting mantises with virtual 3D targets in such scenes. In such scenes, mantises still detected and struck at nearby targets. To investigate the underlying mechanisms, we presented mantises with targets comprised of smaller dots. In different experiments, we varied the correlation of these dots across both eyes. We also manipulated the velocity and luminance differences of the dots in each eye. We found that, unlike humans, mantises could judge target depth in all these scenes. Mantis stereopsis thus enables detection and discrimination between prey in complex scenes but relies on a different mechanism to the cross-correlation of eye images seen in primates.