Search

CPD and Education library

Study and gain CPD points through OT’s online CPD exams, and access archived CPD and CET articles, Practice team resources and Skills guides in our Education library

Find out more

Science and vision

News and features about the latest scientific developments and advances in optometry, ophthalmology and eye medicine

Find out more

Professional support

News and features about the latest developments relating to professional support from across optics. This includes updates from optical organisations such as the AOP and the GOC

Find out more

In practice

News and in-depth features about business management and career development in optics

Find out more

Jobs

Explore the latest UK and global jobs in the optical sector for optometrists, dispensing opticians and more

Find out more

Small minds: images of praying mantis neurons shed light on 3D vision

Newcastle University scientists have fitted insects with tiny spectacles before capturing their brain activity as they were shown images of prey

Praying mantis neuron

A study that involved fitting praying mantises with tiny glasses before displaying images of prey in an ‘insect cinema’ has captured images of the neurons that aid the perception of distance and direction.

The research, which was published in Nature Communications, sought to unravel the puzzle of how insects perform complex behaviours with tiny brains.

Scientists investigated how praying mantises are able to use depth perception to trigger a “raptorial strike” with their forelegs when prey is in reach.

“Here we show the first evidence that individual neurons in the praying mantis brain are tuned to specific disparities and eccentricities, and thus locations in 3D-space,” the authors highlighted.

Praying mantis
Newcastle University researchers fitted praying mantises with tiny 3D spectacles

The brain activity of praying mantises was monitored as they were shown images of prey while wearing small 3D glasses.

The researchers were able to record the activity of individual neurons, which were then stained to reveal their shape allowing the scientists to identify the four classes of neurons involved in praying mantis depth perception.

The research team hopes that the findings could aid the development of simple algorithms for machine and robot vision.

Image credit: Newcastle University