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Behavioral responses to visual overstimulation in the cockroach Periplaneta americana L.

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In the visual systems of insects, different types of photoreceptors contribute to specialized visual channels that mediate distinct functions and behaviors. Large compound eyes of Periplaneta americana contain photoreceptors of two spectral classes, broadband green-sensitive photoreceptors and narrow-band UV-sensitive photoreceptors. Here, we investigated how visual stimulation by UV and green light affects locomotor, resting, and grooming behaviors in P. americana under conditions when light avoidance is not possible. We show that green but not UV light stimulates locomotor activity, inducing paradoxical positive masking. Duration of resting and grooming decreased with increasing light intensity, consistent with development of behavioral stress in response to visual overstimulation. A reaction of full immobility is described under UV light and at higher intensities of green light, with relative periods of immobility and grooming strongly negatively correlated. Low-intensity UV was more effective than low-intensity green light in suppressing grooming and inducing immobility. Our results suggest that locomotor activity in P. americana is mainly regulated by green-sensitive photoreceptors, and that dim UV light can trigger behavioral immobility, whereas both wavelengths induce stress-like reactions at high intensities. Considering the intrinsic UV sensitivity of green-sensitive photoreceptors, the contrasting behavioral responses indicate antagonistic interactions between UV and green visual channels.

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The authors thank the following: Dr. Victor I. Govardovskii for design of the lighting devices, measuring their emission spectra, and discussions; Alexander Miltsin for assembling and installing the lighting devices and their controller; and Dr. Roman V. Cherbunin for lighting source calibration The study was supported by Russian Federation State budget Grant # 01201351571 (2013-2017).

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Correspondence to Roman V. Frolov.

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Zhukovskaya, M., Novikova, E., Saari, P. et al. Behavioral responses to visual overstimulation in the cockroach Periplaneta americana L.. J Comp Physiol A 203, 1007–1015 (2017).

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