Two visual systems in one brain: Neuropils serving the secondary eyes of the spider Cupiennius salei

Nicholas J. Strausfeld, Friedrich G. Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Like other araneans, the wandering spider Cupiennius salei is equipped with one pair of principal eyes and three pairs of secondary eyes. Primary and secondary eyes serve two distinct sets of visual neuropils in the brain. This paper describes cellular organization in neuropils supplied by the secondary eyes, which individually send axons into three laminas resembling their namesakes serving insect superposition eyes. Secondary eye photoreceptors send axons to small‐field projection neurons (L‐cells) which extend from each lamina to supply three separate medullas. Each medulla is a vault of neuropil comprising only a few morphological types of neurons. These can be compared to a subset of retinotopic neurons in the medullas of calliphorid Diptera supplying giant motion‐sensitive neurons in the lobula plate. In Cupiennius, neurons from secondary eye medullas converge at a single target neuropil called the “mushroom body.” This region contains giant output neurons which, like their counterparts in the calliphorid lobula plate, lead to descending pathways that supply thoracic motor circuits. It is suggested that the cellular arrangements serving Cupiennius's secondary eyes are color independent pathways specialized for detecting horizontal motion. The present results do not support the classical view that the spider “mushroom body” is phylogenetically homologous or functionally analogous to its namesake in insects. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1993


  • Cupiennius salei
  • arachnids
  • motion detection
  • visual system
  • “mushroom body”

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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