Seeing what is coming: building collision-sensitive neurones

Trends Neurosci. 1999 May;22(5):215-20. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(98)01332-0.


The image of a rapidly approaching object has to elicit a quick response. An animal needs to know that the object is approaching on a collision course and how imminent a collision is. The relevant information can be computed from the way that the image of the object grows on the retina of one eye. Firm data about the types of neurones that react to such looming stimuli and trigger avoidance reactions come from recent studies on the pigeon and the locust. The neurones responsible are tightly tuned to detect objects that are approaching on a direct collision course. In the pigeon these neurones signal the time remaining before collision whereas in the locust they have a crucial role in the simple strategy this animal uses to detect an object approaching on a collision course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Columbidae
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Grasshoppers
  • Neurons / physiology*