Royal Society Publishing

Coherence in nervous system design: the visual system of Pantodon buchholzi

William M. Saidel


One of the more unusual visual systems of the Actinopterygii is that of Pantodon buchholzi (Osteoglossomorpha: Osteoglossidae). Its adaptations associate neuroanatomy at different levels of the visual system with ecological and behavioural correlates and demonstrate that the visual system of this fish has adapted for simultaneous vision in air and water. The visual field is divided into three distinct areas: for viewing into the water column, into air, and for viewing the aquatic reflection from the underside of the water surface. Cone diameters in different retinal areas correlate with the differing physical constraints in the respective visual field. Retinal differentiation between the aquatic and aerial views is paralleled at different levels of the central nervous system. A diencephalic nucleus receives both direct and indirect (tectal) afferent input from only the aerial visual system and a specific type of cell in the optic tectum is preferentially distributed in the tectum processing aerial inputs. Distinctions within a single sensory system suggest that some behaviours may be organized according to visual field. For Pantodon , feeding is initiated by stimuli seen by the ventral hemiretina so the anatomical specializations may well play an important role as elements in a feeding circuit.

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