In responses to looming objects, the praying mantis shows a defense behavior, which consists of retracting forelegs under the prothorax. The role of a loomingsensitive neuron in triggering this behavior was investigated by simultaneously recording the activity and behavioral responses of the neuron. The mantis initiated the defense behavior earlier in response to larger and slower looming stimuli. The time remaining to collision at defense initiation was linearly correlated with the ratio of the half-size of an approaching object to its speed (l/|v|), suggesting that the defense behavior occurred a fixed delay after the stimuli had reached a fixed angular threshold. Furthermore, the results suggested that high-frequency spikes of the looming-sensitive neuron were involved in triggering the defense behavior: the distribution of maximum firing rate for trials with defense was shifted to larger rates compared with trials without defense; the firing rate of the neuron exceeded 150 Hz ~100 ms before the defense initiation regardless of stimulus parameters; when a looming stimulus ceased approach prematurely, high-frequency spikes were removed, and the occurrence of defense was reduced.
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