Online learning for orientation estimation during translation in an insect ring attractor network

Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 25;12(1):3210. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05798-4.


Insect neural systems are a promising source of inspiration for new navigation algorithms, especially on low size, weight, and power platforms. There have been unprecedented recent neuroscience breakthroughs with Drosophila in behavioral and neural imaging experiments as well as the mapping of detailed connectivity of neural structures. General mechanisms for learning orientation in the central complex (CX) of Drosophila have been investigated previously; however, it is unclear how these underlying mechanisms extend to cases where there is translation through an environment (beyond only rotation), which is critical for navigation in robotic systems. Here, we develop a CX neural connectivity-constrained model that performs sensor fusion, as well as unsupervised learning of visual features for path integration; we demonstrate the viability of this circuit for use in robotic systems in simulated and physical environments. Furthermore, we propose a theoretical understanding of how distributed online unsupervised network weight modification can be leveraged for learning in a trajectory through an environment by minimizing orientation estimation error. Overall, our results may enable a new class of CX-derived low power robotic navigation algorithms and lead to testable predictions to inform future neuroscience experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Education, Distance*
  • Insecta
  • Nervous System