Visual attention and decision making in insects

Full Title: 
Visual attention and decision making in insects: Neural mechanisms and behaviour in virtual reality
Research Area: 
A: Motion Intelligence, B: Attentive Systems
01.04.2014 to 31.03.2016 (completed)

To act appropriately under variable conditions, animals have to continually acquire information about their situation in the environment and to select between different behavioural options. Despite their tiny brains, even insects like flies or bees initiate behaviours intrinsically, display selective attention, and are well able to draw decisions between behavioural options depending on the environmental context, previous experience, and their internal state. Therefore, insects are used in this project as model systems to elucidate what visual cues attract the attention of the animal, by what neural mechanisms these cues are represented in the visual system, and how these visual signals are read out by downstream neural circuits as one determinant of behavioural choice. This will be done by monitoring in a virtual reality facility - specially designed for insects - simultaneously behavioural decisions and neural activity of tethered insects at various levels of the nervous system.