Newly reported research with dragonflies follows, at least in spirit, in the wingbeats of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning locust/Star Wars research.
Greg Miller reports on the new work, in Wired:
Scientists Put Backpacks on Dragonflies to Track Their Brains in Flight
The brain of a dragonfly has to do some serious calculations — and fast — if it hopes to nab a mosquito or midge in midair. It has to predict the trajectory of its prey, plot a course to intersect it, then make adjustments on the fly to counteract any evasive maneuvers. Neuroscientist Anthony Leonardo created the tiny dragonfly backpack above to study how circuits of neurons do these computations. The backpack weighs 40 milligrams, about as much as a couple grains of sand, equal to just 10 percent of the dragonfly’s weight. Electrodes inserted into the dragonfly’s body and brain record the electrical activity of neurons, and a custom-made chip amplifies the signals and transmits them wirelessly to a nearby computer….
in 2005, the Ig Nobel peace prize was awarded to Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of Newcastle University, in the U.K., for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars.” [They described their research in the study “Orthopteran DCMD Neuron: A Reevaluation of Responses to Moving Objects. I. Selective Responses to Approaching Objects,” F.C. Rind and P.J. Simmons, Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 68, no. 5, November 1992, pp. 1654-66.]