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From Neurons to natural behaviour

How do insect eyes and brains process the plethora of visual information in their environment? How is this information used to recognise suitable flowers, or control intricate flight manoevures? We work on these and many other questions, by combining quantitative behaviour, electrophysiology, neuroanatomical methods and computational modelling, using insect pollinators (hawkmoths and bees) as our models.Our research (see publications) branches in two main lines,which are introduced below...

dynamic vision

Animals face a wide range of light intensities from bright sunlight to starlight - and even within a time of day, the light environment can drastically change within just seconds, as an insect flies from a forest into an open meadow. At the same time, the spatial structure of the environment changes drastically as well.

We study how the insect visual system adjust to these changes in spatial structure and light intensity. And how these affect the animals' behaviour at day and at night.

Pattern vision

We have enjoy the fascinating range of colourful patterns that flowers display on our windowsills and in our gardens. For insects, these can be of great importance for their daily food supply, as they can lead insect pollinators to a plant’s nectary.

We study how insects use flower patterns as they interact with flowers - be it approaching and landing on them, or contacting them with their proboscis. And we burn to understand how the tiny insect brain recognises and memorises different patterns

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