Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 137, Issue 3, pp 215–231 | Cite as

Chromatic properties of identified interneurons in the optic lobes of the bee

  • Horst Hertel


The properties of bee medulla and lobula neurons were investigated using intracellular recordings and light stimuli of different qualities. The intracellular injection of dye permitted the examination of the structure and position of neurons studied electrophysiologically. Examples of different coding mechanisms are given; transitional stages were also found.
  1. 1.

    Broad band neurons have response/intensity curves for different wavelengths in the same range of intensity; the absolute value of intensity for this range may be different for ON and OFF reactions.

  2. 2.

    Narrow band units show high sensitivity to only a small portion of the spectrum. The maximum sensitivity sometimes lies between the sensitivity maximum of different photoreceptors.

  3. 3.

    Intensity band neurons react to a small intensity range, and show no reaction to light of neighboring intensities.

  4. 4.

    Color specific mechanisms are evident in antagonistic reactions to different colors of the test light. In medullar neurons this component of reaction was phasic, in lobular neurons tonic.

  5. 5.

    Receptive fields of 1/3 of medulla neurons are smaller than 30°; those of lobula neurons are greater than 30°.

  6. 6.

    Some fibres show spatial antagonism: light elicits excitation in one part of the receptive field and inhibition in the other. Fields lack antagonistic center-surround structure.

  7. 7.

    Several neurons are sensitive to movement of a light stimulus. In the medulla these always had small receptive fields, in the lobula wide receptive fields. Directional selectivity occasionally occurred in the lobula.



Receptive Field Light Stimulus Intracellular Recording Optic Lobe Transitional Stage 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Horst Hertel
    • 1
  1. 1.Arbeitsgruppe Neurobiologie, Institut für TierphysiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlin 41

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