Using insects as model systems, our research contributes to understanding the foundations of the sense of audition. Audition is investigated at multiple levels, from the molecular basis of mechanoreception to the psychophysics of auditory behaviour. The themes thus far have pertained to auditory directional sensitivity, auditory-guided behaviour, nanometre-range sensitivity, frequency selectivity, and the process of active auditory mechanics.
Male mosquitoes use their antennae to detect the minute air-borne vibrations that ensue from the wingbeats of conspecific females. Biomechanical and neurophysiological measurements have shown that the mosquito's auditory system, endowed with a threshold of about 5 nanometres, is one of the most sensitive mechanoreceptor organs thus far described in animals.
Remarkably, such exquisite sensitivity has been shown to be supported by an active physiological process that is in full agreement with the key operational criteria of active sensation uncovered in vertebrates. Active sensation, the process by which sensory organs actively contribute to the mechano-electrical conversion of information, is therefore now studied in insects. Insects constitute precious model systems for such studies due to their biological diversity, small size, surgical accessibility and amenability to genetic dissection.
Sensory Ecology - how organisms acquire information from their environment.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
Edit this profile If you are Professor Daniel Robert, you can edit this page. Login required.