The Central Complex as a Potential Substrate for Vector Based Navigation

Florent Le Moël, Thomas Stone, Mathieu Lihoreau, Antoine Wystrach, Barbara Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insects use path integration (PI) to maintain a home vector, but can also store and recall vector-memories that take them from home to a food location, and even allow them to take novel shortcuts between food locations. The neural circuit of the Central Complex (a brain area that receives compass and optic flow information) forms a plausible substrate for these behaviours. A recent model, grounded in neurophysiological and neuroanatomical data, can account for PI during outbound exploratory routes and the control of steering to return home. Here, we show that minor, hypothetical but neurally plausible, extensions of this model can additionally explain how insects could store and recall PI vectors to follow food-ward paths, take shortcuts, search at the feeder and re-calibrate their vector-memories with experience. In addition, a simple assumption about how one of multiple vector-memories might be chosen at any point in time can produce the development and maintenance of efficient routes between multiple locations, as observed in bees. The central complex circuitry is therefore well-suited to allow for a rich vector-based navigational repertoire.
Original languageEnglish
Article number690
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'The Central Complex as a Potential Substrate for Vector Based Navigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this