Threat detection

Gregory William Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


One reason for a visual computation to reside in the retina rather than in the brain is speed. Behaviors that rely on rapid visual processing should naturally involve few synaptic steps from phototransduction to action. The most critical visual behavior with a speed constraint is threat detection since failure to quickly identify threats, like approaching predators, is often fatal. Thus many, if not all, animals with visual systems have dedicated threat-detection circuits from the retina to brain targets with short neural pathways to the motor system, circumventing conscious perception. From the perspective of retinal computation, the central questions are "What features of a visual stimulus specify a threat?" and "What mechanisms do retinal circuits use to detect those features both reliably and quickly?".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRetinal Computation
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780128198964
StatePublished - Aug 17 2021


  • Approaching motion
  • Escape behavior
  • Fear
  • GABA receptors
  • Looming stimuli
  • OFF transient alpha RGC
  • Overhead predators
  • PV-5 RGC
  • Phototransduction
  • Superior colliculus
  • Synchrony
  • Threat
  • Visual computation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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