University of Oulu

Honkanen, A., Saari, P., Takalo, J. et al. J Comp Physiol A (2018) 204: 231.

The role of ocelli in cockroach optomotor performance

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Author: Honkanen, Anna1,2; Saari, Paulus1; Takalo, Jouni1,3;
Organizations: 1Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit, University of Oulu
2Vision Group, Department of Biology, Lund University
3Centre for Cognition in Small Brains, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-02-14


Insect ocelli are relatively simple eyes that have been assigned various functions not related to pictorial vision. In some species they function as sensors of ambient light intensity, from which information is relayed to various parts of the nervous system, e.g., for the control of circadian rhythms. In this work we have investigated the possibility that the ocellar light stimulation changes the properties of the optomotor performance of the cockroach Periplaneta americana. We used a virtual reality environment where a panoramic moving image is presented to the cockroach while its movements are recorded with a trackball. Previously we have shown that the optomotor reaction of the cockroach persists down to the intensity of moonless night sky, equivalent to less than 0.1 photons/s being absorbed by each compound eye photoreceptor. By occluding the compound eyes, the ocelli, or both, we show that the ocellar stimulation can change the intensity dependence of the optomotor reaction, indicating involvement of the ocellar visual system in the information processing of movement. We also measured the cuticular transmission, which, although relatively large, is unlikely to contribute profoundly to ocellar function, but may be significant in determining the mean activity level of completely blinded cockroaches.

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Series: Journal of comparative physiology A
ISSN: 0340-7594
ISSN-E: 1432-1351
ISSN-L: 0340-7594
Volume: 204
Issue: 2
Pages: 231 - 243
DOI: 10.1007/s00359-017-1235-z
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 318 Medical biotechnology
114 Physical sciences
Funding: The study was supported by funding from Biocenter Oulu Doctoral Programme to AH; from Academy of Finland and Sigrid Juselius Foundation to MW; and from Wihuri Foundation to JT.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.