Concept of the invertebrate brain platform

Invertebrates, despite their small size, have many astonishing capabilities. In particular insects can perform tasks such as climbing up vertical walls, fly, localize odor sources reliably over distances of several kilometers, and many other complex navigation tasks at different scales. These astonishing abilities of insects make us wonder how they are implemented in such tiny bodies. Insect sensory systems and subsequent information processing machinery (i.e. the nervous system) have evolved to fit into such tiny bodies while providing exquisite performance in complex environments. These abilities are now called “Insect Power” and receive a great deal of attention from the industrial world and the scientific community.

The mechanisms of sensory, central nervous, and behavioral systems behind“Insect Power” (used as a summary term for the astonishing capabilities of insects) can not only become a good model to understand similar mechansisms in mammals, including humans, but can also provide vital clues for the design of (intelligent) autonomous robots that may be designed as to behave like living organisms. Indeed, a lot is to be learned from studying the mechanisms of sensory, central nervous, and behavioral systems as well as the body plans and structural properties, especially of the integument . Our understanding of the properties of these systems will be a key element for advancing innovative technologies. It has been over a hundred years since Fabre’s “Souvenirs entomologiques” was published and the understanding of “Insect Power” is now making rapid progress by studies that integrate biology, physics, chemistry, informatics (computer science), mathematics, and engineering.

In the present context, with a focus on insect sensory systems, nervous systems, and behavior, we intend to provide and share different types of information that include neurophysiological, neuroethological, and behavioral experimental data, as well as mathematical/computational models, software tools for investigating insects, and construction methods for simple measurement devices. The number of invertebrate species is enormous, and in particular the arthropods have been successful in evolution, they represent the largest fraction of all animals in terms of species as well as in terms of biomass. . Thus we focus on silkmoth, cricket, blow fly, honeybee, and crayfish as models and promote the sharing of scientific resources such as experimental data and mathematical models that investigators and other participants of the project will provide. The comparative approach to the study of arthropod sensory systems, nervous systems and behavior is one of the most important aspects of this platform.

This Platform offers you direct access to a growing database of information on nervous systems and behavior of various species of invertebrates and a large body of ancillary material to promote the use of invertebrate systems in research and education and facilitate information transfer to engineers that are looking for mechanisms that may be useful to solve a wide range of technological problems. This platform has, as indicated in figure 1, four entrance points tailored to different target user groups. The first entrance point is designed for users that are interested in using invertebrates for research purposes, in particular in the field of neuroscience, to assist them in initiating research projects. A second entrance point is available for those that are concerned with implementations of design principles of invertebrate nervous systems and behavior in industrial applications. The third portal is destined for providing quick access for instructors that intend to use invertebrates for educational purposes and the remaining entrance point facilitates obtaining general comparative information on sensory and central nervous systems and behavior of invertebrates.

1.Entrance point for the database of sensors, brains, and behaviors in invertebrates

2.Entrance point for scientific research (Comparative behavioral physiology of invertebrates)

3.Entrance point for industrial applications

4.Entrance point for educational use

We hope that the platform will allow you to gain a better understanding of insect sensory systems, nervous systems, and behavior, and be useful for your scientific, industrial, or educational purposes.

Fig. 1. Schema of the IVBPF concept
In collaboration with researchers, high school teachers, and museum curators, we promote the development of a platform that collects information on insect sensory systems, nervous systems, and behavior. The information mainly targets users interested in computational neuroscience, industrial application, or education, including teaching materials.

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