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Single nerve cell triggers an escape.

The action of a single nerve cell, stimulated after a cricket detects the ultrasonic signal of a bat, permits the cricket to change its flight direction and escape its predator, according to Cornell researchers. Such single-cell control of an important behavior had previously been reported only in crayfish and some bony fish.

The scientists, Ron R. Hoy, Thomas G. Nolen and colleagues, are attempting to construct a "wiring diagram" for crickets to explain the behavior in terms of the capbilities and connections of their nerve cells. The investigators find that in contrast to the cricket's simple and speedy response to a predator, a more complex neural network is required for the first stage of mating. There the cricket uses its neural circuitry to analyze pitch and rhythm of other crickets' songs in order to identify a suitable mate. The scientists suggest that, for survival, speed is of much greater essence is escape behavior than in mating. Hoy says, "In the animal world there are two kinds of prey, the quick and the dead." The report appears in the Nov 23 SCIENCE.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 19, 1985
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