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Stereopsis without correspondence

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jenny ReadORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Stereopsis has traditionally been considered a complex visual ability, restricted to large-brained animals. The discovery in the 1980s that insects, too, have stereopsis, therefore, challenged theories of stereopsis. How can such simple brains see in three dimensions? A likely answer is that insect stereopsis has evolved to produce simple behaviour, such as orienting towards the closer of two objects or triggering a strike when prey comes within range. Scientific thinking about stereopsis has been unduly anthropomorphic, for example assuming that stereopsis must require binocular fusion or a solution of the stereo correspondence problem. In fact, useful behaviour can be produced with very basic stereoscopic algorithms which make no attempt to achieve fusion or correspondence, or to produce even a coarse map of depth across the visual field. This may explain why some aspects of insect stereopsis seem poorly designed from an engineering point of view: for example, paying no attention to whether interocular contrast or velocities match. Such algorithms demonstrably work well enough in practice for their species, and may prove useful in particular autonomous applications. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'New approaches to 3D vision'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Read JCA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences

Year: 2023

Volume: 378

Issue: 1869

Print publication date: 30/01/2023

Online publication date: 13/12/2022

Acceptance date: 30/06/2022

Date deposited: 04/01/2023

ISSN (print): 0962-8436

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2970

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0449

PubMed id: 36511401


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