The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

The infrared sense of rattlesnakes: Neuronal processing of a low-resolution image

Date: 
Mon, 01/21/2019 - 5:15pm
Meeting point: 
Poppelsdorfer Schloss
Location: 
Lecture hall
Event type: 
Lecture
Event series: 
Colloquium on evolution and biodiversity
Target group: 
Studierende
Lecturer: 
Dr. Tobias Kohl, Zoology, TU Munich

Pitvipers, such as rattlesnakes, have a specialized sensory system in the upper jaw to detect infrared (IR) radiation. This extra sense is used for behavioural thermoregulation, predator avoidance and particularly to detect and strike at endothermic prey.

The infrared system consists of bilateral pit organs that resemble simple pinhole cameras and map IR objects onto the sensory epithelium as blurred representations of the environment. Although the image is of low resolution, rattlesnakes can strike precisely at potential prey even in complete darkness.

To gather a first understanding of how spatial and directional information is extracted from the blurred IR-images, we recorded neurons in isolated rattlesnake brains intracellularly. Our data from two unique infrared sensitive nuclei (LTTD, RC), indicates that synaptic processing related to contrast enhancement and IR object motion already takes place at the level of the hindbrain.

Contact person

Head of Section
+49 228 9122-241
+49 228 9122-295
h [dot] waegele [at] zfmk [dot] de

Biologisches Kolloquium

Prof. Dr. H. Wägele
Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig,
Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn
 
Prof. Dr. G. von der Emde
Institut für Zoologie, Poppelsdorfer Schloss,
Meckenheimer Allee 169, 53115 Bonn
 
Ort: Großer Hörsaal, Poppelsdorfer Schloß
Zeit: montags, 17.15 Uhr
 

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