A Novel Form of Stereo Vision in the Praying Mantis

Stereopsis is the ability to estimate distance based on the different views seen in the two eyes. It is an important model perceptual system in neuroscience and a major area of machine vision. Mammalian, avian, and almost all machine stereo algorithms look for similarities between the luminance-defined images in the two eyes, using a series of computations to produce a map showing how depth varies across the scene. Stereopsis has also evolved in at least one invertebrate, the praying mantis. Mantis stereopsis is presumed to be simpler than vertebrates’, but little is currently known about the underlying computations. Here, we show that mantis stereopsis uses a fundamentally different computational algorithm from vertebrate stereopsis --
rather than comparing luminance in the two eyes’ images directly, mantis stereopsis looks for regions of the images where luminance is changing. Thus, while there is no evidence that mantis stereopsis works at all with static images, it successfully reveals the distance to a moving target even in complex visual scenes with targets that are perfectly camouflaged against the background in terms of texture. Strikingly, these insects outperform human observers at judging stereoscopic distance when the pattern of luminance in the two eyes does not match. Insect stereopsis has thus evolved to be computationally efficient while being robust to poor image resolution and to discrepancies in the pattern of luminance between the two eyes.
File Size2.5 MiB
DateFebruary 17, 2018
AuthorNityananda V, Tarawneh G, Henriksen S, Umeton D, Simmons A, Read JCA