A model of cue integration as vector summation in the insect brain

Robert Mitchell*, Shahrzad Shaverdian, Marie Dacke, Barbara Webb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Ball-rolling dung beetles are known to integrate multiple cues in order to facilitate their straight-line orientation behaviour. Recent work has suggested that orientation cues are integrated according to a vector sum, that is, compass cues are represented by vectors and summed to give a combined orientation estimate. Further, cue weight (vector magnitude) appears to be set according to cue reliability. This is consistent with the popular Bayesian view of cue integration: cues are integrated to reduce or minimize an agent's uncertainty about the external world. Integration of orientation cues is believed to occur at the input to the insect central complex. Here, we demonstrate that a model of the head direction circuit of the central complex, including plasticity in input synapses, can act as a substrate for cue integration as vector summation. Further, we show that cue influence is not necessarily driven by cue reliability. Finally, we present a dung beetle behavioural experiment which, in combination with simulation, strongly suggests that these beetles do not weight cues according to reliability. We suggest an alternative strategy whereby cues are weighted according to relative contrast, which can also explain previous results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20230767
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2001
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • vector
  • cue integration
  • plasticity
  • contrast
  • reliability
  • neural model


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