Color processing in the medulla of the bumblebee (Apidae: Bombus impatiens)

Angelique C. Paulk, Andrew M. Dacks, Wulfila Gronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of processing a visual scene involve segregating features (such as color) into separate information channels at different stages within the brain, processing these features, and then integrating this information at higher levels in the brain. To examine how this process takes place in the insect brain, we focused on the medulla, an area within the optic lobe through which all of the visual information from the retina must pass before it proceeds to central brain areas. We used histological and immunocytochemical techniques to examine the bumblebee medulla and found that the medulla is divided into eight layers. We then recorded and morphologically identified 27 neurons with processes in the medulla. During our recordings we presented color cues to determine whether response types correlated with locations of the neural branching patterns of the filled neurons among the medulla layers. Neurons in the outer medulla layers had less complex color responses compared to neurons in the inner medulla layers and there were differences in the temporal dynamics of the responses among the layers. Progressing from the outer to the inner medulla, neurons in the different layers appear to process increasingly complex aspects of the natural visual scene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-456
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 10 2009


  • Adaptation
  • Insect brain
  • Temporal response properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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