Wind spectra and the escape response of the cockroach
The escape response behavior in the cockroach is based on sensing the air currents produced by approaching predators. Perception of a predator requires knowledge of the spatial temporal structure of the ambient air currents. Information about features of the wind is carried by a small number of spiking neurons. It is shown that the firing rate of these neurons is invariant to the rms wind velocity but is strongly sensitive to shape of the wind spectra. These properties may help the cockroach solve the problem of predator recognition in the presence of background flows. We describe experiments on the escape response system of the cockroach, Periplaneta Americana, which allow us to make quantitative measurements of neural coding with precisely controlled wind stimuli.