Home > Papers from 2017 > Navigation in cockroaches

Navigation in cockroaches

On this site we do have a bias towards social insects, but navigation is, of course, valuable for all insects. Some insects, like cockroaches, have a long history of neuroscientific investigation and in recent times, really exciting neuroscience has been showing the cellular basis of orientation in insects. In this review, Varga et al. review what we know about insect navigational circuits and they are compared to the well-studied cellular basis of navigation in rodents.
Abstract: “Cockroaches are scavengers that forage through dark, maze-like environments. Like other foraging animals, for instance rats, they must continually asses their situation to keep track of targets and negotiate barriers. While navigating a complex environment, all animals need to integrate sensory information in order to produce appropriate motor commands. The integrated sensory cues can be used to provide the animal with an environmental and contextual reference frame for the behavior. To successfully reach a goal location, navigational cues continuously derived from sensory inputs have to be utilized in the spatial guidance of motor commands. The sensory processes, contextual and spatial mechanisms, and motor outputs contributing to navigation have been heavily studied in rats. In contrast, many insect studies focused on the sensory and/or motor components of navigation, and our knowledge of the abstract representation of environmental context and spatial information in the insect brain is relatively limited. Recent reports from several laboratories have explored the role of the central complex (CX), a sensorimotor region of the insect brain, in navigational processes by recording the activity of CX neurons in freely-moving insects and in more constrained, experimenter-controlled situations. The results of these studies indicate that the CX participates in processing the temporal and spatial components of sensory cues, and utilizes these cues in creating an internal representation of orientation and context, while also directing motor control. Although these studies led to a better understanding of the CX’s role in insect navigation, there are still major voids in the literature regarding the underlying mechanisms and brain regions involved in spatial navigation. The main goal of this review is to place the above listed findings in the wider context of animal navigation by providing an overview of the neural mechanisms of navigation in rats and summarizing and comparing our current knowledge on the CX’s role in insect navigation to these processes. By doing so, we aimed to highlight some of the missing puzzle pieces in insect navigation and provide a different perspective for future directions.”
Varga, A. G., Kathman, N. D., Martin, J. P., Guo, P., & Ritzmann, R. E. (2017). Spatial Navigation and the Central Complex: Sensory Acquisition, Orientation, and Motor Control. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience11.
Categories: Papers from 2017
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