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ItemEdge Detection in Landing Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)Bhagavatula, P ; Claudianos, C ; Ibbotson, M ; Srinivasan, M ; Warrant, E (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2009-10-07)BACKGROUND: While considerable scientific effort has been devoted to studying how birds navigate over long distances, relatively little is known about how targets are detected, obstacles are avoided and smooth landings are orchestrated. Here we examine how visual features in the environment, such as contrasting edges, determine where a bird will land. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Landing in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) was investigated by training them to fly from a perch to a feeder, and video-filming their landings. The feeder was placed on a grey disc that produced a contrasting edge against a uniformly blue background. We found that the birds tended to land primarily at the edge of the disc and walk to the feeder, even though the feeder was in the middle of the disc. This suggests that the birds were using the visual contrast at the boundary of the disc to target their landings. When the grey level of the disc was varied systematically, whilst keeping the blue background constant, there was one intermediate grey level at which the budgerigar's preference for the disc boundary disappeared. The budgerigars then landed randomly all over the test surface. Even though this disc is (for humans) clearly distinguishable from the blue background, it offers very little contrast against the background, in the red and green regions of the spectrum. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that budgerigars use visual edges to target and guide landings. Calculations of photoreceptor excitation reveal that edge detection in landing budgerigars is performed by a color-blind luminance channel that sums the signals from the red and green photoreceptors, or, alternatively, receives input from the red double-cones. This finding has close parallels to vision in honeybees and primates, where edge detection and motion perception are also largely color-blind.
ItemVisual Perception: Saccadic Omission - Suppression or Temporal Masking?Ibbotson, MR ; Cloherty, SL (CELL PRESS, 2009-06-23)Although we don't perceive visual stimuli during saccadic eye movements, new evidence shows that our brains do process these stimuli and they can influence our subsequent visual perception.
ItemSaccadic Modulation of Neural Responses: Possible Roles in Saccadic Suppression, Enhancement, and Time CompressionIbbotson, MR ; Crowder, NA ; Cloherty, SL ; Price, NSC ; Mustari, MJ (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2008-10-22)Humans use saccadic eye movements to make frequent gaze changes, yet the associated full-field image motion is not perceived. The theory of saccadic suppression has been proposed to account for this phenomenon, but it is not clear whether suppression originates from a retinal signal at saccade onset or from the brain before saccade onset. Perceptually, visual sensitivity is reduced before saccades and enhanced afterward. Over the same time period, the perception of time is compressed and even inverted. We explore the origins and neural basis of these effects by recording from neurons in the dorsal medial superior temporal area (MSTd) of alert macaque monkeys. Neuronal responses to flashed presentations of a textured pattern presented at random times relative to saccades exhibit a stereotypical pattern of modulation. Response amplitudes are strongly suppressed for flashes presented up to 90 ms before saccades. Immediately after the suppression, there is a period of 200-450 ms in which flashes generate enhanced response amplitudes. Our results show that (1) MSTd is not directly suppressed, rather suppression is inherited from earlier visual areas; (2) early suppression of the visual system must be of extra-retinal origin; (3) postsaccadic enhancement of neural activity occurs in MSTd; and (4) the enhanced responses have reduced latencies. As a whole, these observations reveal response properties that could account for perceptual observations relating to presaccadic suppression, postsaccadic enhancement and time compression.