The incremental responses from the second-order neurons of the ocellus of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana, have been measured. The stimulus was a white-noise-modulated light with various mean illuminances. The kernels, obtained by cross-correlating the white-noise input against the resulting response, provided a measure of incremental sensitivity as well as of response dynamics. We found that the incremental sensitivity of the second-order neurons was an exact Weber-Fechner function; white-noise-evoked responses from second-order neurons were linear; the dynamics of second-order neurons remain unchanged over a mean illuminance range of 4 log units; the small nonlinearity in the response of the second-order neuron was a simple amplitude compression; and the correlation between the white-noise input and spike discharges of the second-order neurons produced a first-order kernel similar to that of the cell's slow potential. We conclude that signal processing in the cockroach ocellus is simple but different from that in other visual systems, including vertebrate retinas and insect compound eyes, in which the system's dynamics depend on the mean illuminance.

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