This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited. Adrian Horridge has written an interesting, useful, and very opinionated book on the visual system of insects. He states that it could be used by university students interested in the physiology of vision or the psychology of perception, by entomologists or zoologists, by engineers interested in robot vision, and by philosophers interested in the scientific method. The book is actually several small books in one. It is a history of neuroethological research on insect vision, a functional anatomy of insect visual systems, a compilation of his own studies on pattern vision of bees, and a critique of the scientific reasoning of other workers in the field.

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The Discovery of a Visual System The Honeybee 1 click image to zoom In this hardback book, Adrian Horridge sets out the curious and contentious history of how the visual system of the honeybee came to be understood and how, in his view, the current accepted theory is completely wrong. Based on his own meticulous experimental work and historic analysis of past literature over many years, Horridge tells the story of a century of neglect of old experimental results, errors of interpretation, sharp disagreements, and failures of the scientific method.

The design of the experiments and the methods of making inferences from observations are critically examined, with the conclusion that often scientists are hesitant, imperfect and misleading, ignoring the work of others, and failing to consider alternative explanations.

For example, honeybees detect some visual features such as edges and colours, but there is no sign that they reconstruct patterns or put together features to form objects. Bees detect motion but have no perception of what it is that moves, and certainly they do not recognise objects or colours by their shapes. Yet they clearly see well enough to fly and find food with a minute brain. The surprising conclusion is that bee vision is adapted to the recognition of places, not things or colours.

A proper understanding of the visual system of the honeybee and other insects can be used to manipulate visual cues in crop science and horticulture to encourage pollination, or enhance pest management. It is also vital for the development of artificial visual systems in robotics.

This fascinating book is essential reading for any scientist with an interest in insect neuroscience and visual systems, but also for anyone with an interest in the history of science and the way science itself can progress.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in and became one of the foremost neuroscientists of his generation. He has been working on insect visual systems since the s and continues that work to this day. Related Categories.


From honey bees to bioengineering

Due to the size of the honey bee brain, these small visual fields are not computationally combined into a large image. Instead, edges are recognised and orientation is made possible by comparing the angles through which patterns appear in adjacent ommatidia, essentially measuring the parallax of optical patterns. This is supported by movements of the head allowing the bee to compute the arrangement of features in its environment. The relatively simple neural circuits required to compute recognition of patterns by a moving field of ommatidia, allowed the visual science group at the Research School of Biology led by Adrian Horridge in collaboration with Levick Bishop at the John Curtin School of Medical Research and Alan Snyder of the Applied Mathematics Department at ANU to develop a small device in the shape of a thimble to detect simple patterns and to convert them into electrical outputs. This device was intended to help blind people recognise items in their immediate environment.


New ideas on how bees see

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