The strike of the praying mantis's forelegs is so fast that, once they are set in motion, the manits cant control its aim. How does it ever manage to catch a fly? A moth negotiating the night air hears the squeak of a hunting bat on the wing, and tumbles out of harm's way. How? The author argues that insects are ideal subjects for neurophysiological studies, and at its simplest level this book relates the activities of nerve cells to the activities of insects. In several experiments - on the moth, the cockroach, and the praying mantis - the author shows how stimulus and behaviour are related through the nervous system and suggests that the insect brain appears to control behaviour by determining which of the various built-in activity patterns will appear in a given situation.
Kenneth D. Roeder was a Professor of Physiology and Chairman of the Department of Biology, Tufts University.