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The Function of the Central Complex in Auditory and Visual Orientation

The Function of the Central Complex in Auditory and Visual Orientation

Supervisor: Dr Berthold Hedwig 

Project summary:

Female crickets walk and orient towards singing males using only acoustic cues for orientation. The descending motor commands underlying this behaviour are not yet understood. However, the central complex in the brain of insects is implicated in motor control of walking and also in directed orientation to polarization patterns. This makes the central complex an interesting target to study the integration of auditory activity patterns in crickets. Intracellular recordings will be obtained from central complex neurons while the animals are exposed to male calling song and polarization light patterns. The response patterns of the neurons will reveal, to what degree both sensory stimuli are integrated at this level of central processing.

What the student will be doing:

Training will be provided in intracellular recordings, confocal imaging, neuroanatomical tracing methods, and behavioral studies. The student will learn to use intracellular recording and stimulation techniques to explore the link between neural activity of central brain neurons and the processing of sound signals


Heinze S, Homberg U. (2007) Maplike representation of celestial E-vector orientations in the brain of an insect. Science; 315(5814): 995–7.

Seelig JD, Jayaraman V. (2013) Feature detection and orientation tuning in the Drosophila central complex. Nature, 503: 262-267, doi10.1038/nature12601