Maplike Representation of Celestial E-Vector Orientations in the Brain of an Insect

Science  16 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5814, pp. 995-997
DOI: 10.1126/science.1135531

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For many insects, the polarization pattern of the blue sky serves as a compass cue for spatial navigation. E-vector orientations are detected by photoreceptors in a dorsal rim area of the eye. Polarized-light signals from both eyes are finally integrated in the central complex, a brain area consisting of two subunits, the protocerebral bridge and the central body. Here we show that a topographic representation of zenithal E-vector orientations underlies the columnar organization of the protocerebral bridge in a locust. The maplike arrangement is highly suited to signal head orientation under the open sky.

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