Adrian Horridge

Adrian Horridge
Emeritus Professor
Biomedical Science and Biochemistry
 +61 2 6125 4532 (Office)



Emeritus Professor Adrian Horridge is distinguished for analysis of coelenterate nervous systems, sliding microtubules in ctenophore cilia, conditioning in headless insects, and pitch discrimination in locusts. He wrote the 1965 book, Nervous Systems of Invertebrates, with Theodore H. Bullock, and many works on insect photoreceptor optics and responses, crab perception of the Sun’s movement, optokinetic memory, and control of crab eye movements. With Ian Meinertzhagen, he investigated exact neural connexions of insect photoreceptors, and with Allan Snyder, light guides, in insect eyes. Adrian initiated a programme on optic flow in insect vision, with applications in robot and drone vision with Mandyam Srinivasan. In 2009, he published What Does the Honeybee See? Lately, he showed that bees detect simple features, not shapes, and distinguish coloured patterns by the arrangement of edges causing modulation in green and blue receptors, combined with monochromatic content of blue. Of 51 PhD students, half became professors, and 8 from his group are FRS. In maritime anthropology, Adrian has described the lashed-lug and other traditional construction methods and ceremonies of the sailing and canoe fleets of Indonesia.

Adrian is an Emeritus Professor in the RSB Division of Biomedical Science and Biochemistry.


Research interests

  • Broad interest in the nervous basis of behaviour, sense organs and brains, as studied by the techniques of electrophysiology, anatomy and behaviour.
  • Physics and physiology of the eye as a pattern for artificial seeing systems. Insect Models of visual systems. Vision in man.
  • Pattern Vision of the Honeybee. An experimental study started in 1993 and continuing through 2004.
  • The history, distribution, uses, anthropology, engineering structures and rigs relating to the traditional boats of Island Southeast Asia and the ethnology of maritime societies in SE Asia.


Selected publications

  • 2015 Horridge, A, How bees distinguish colors, Eye and Brain
  • 2014 Horridge, A, How bees distinguish black from white, Eye and Brain
  • 2014 Horridge, A, How bees discriminate a pattern of two colors from its mirror image, PLOS
  • 2003 Discrimination of single bars by the honeybee (Apis mellifera ). Vision Research, 43, 1257-1271.
  • 2003 The visual system of the honeybee ( Apis mellifera ): the maximum length of the orientation detector. J Insect Physiol. 49, 621-628.
  • 2003 Visual resolution of gratings by the compound eye of the bee ( Apis mellifera ). J. Exp . Biol. 206, 2105-2110.
  • 2003 Visual discrimination by the honeybee ( Apis mellifera ): the position of the common centre as the cue. Physiological Entomology 28, 132-143.
  • 2003 The effect of complexity on the discrimination of oriented bars by the honeybee ( Apis mellifera ). J. Comp. Physiol. A 189, 703-714.
  • 2003 Visual resolution of the orientation cue by the honeybee ( Apis mellifera ). J Insect Physiol. 49, 1145-1152.
  • 2005 What the honeybee sees: a review of the recognition system of Apis mellifera. Physiological Entomology 30, 2-13
  • 2005 Visual recognition of a familiar place by a small brain: the honey bee. J. Comp. Physiol. A 191, 301-316.
  • 2005 The spatial resolutions of the apposition compound eye and its neurosensory feature detectors: observation versus theory. J Insect Physiol. 51, 243-266.
  • 2006a. Horridge, G.A., Visual processing of pattern. In: Warrant, E., Nilsson, D-E. (Eds.), Invertebrate Vision. Cambridge University Press, England, pp. 494-525.
  • 2006b Horridge, G.A., Visual discrimination of spokes, sectors, and circles by the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Insect Physiology 52, 984-1003.
  • 2006c. Horridge, G.A., Some labels that are recognized on landmarks by the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Insect Physiology 52, 1254-1271.
  • 2007. Horridge, G.A., The preferences of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) for different visual cues during the learning process. Journal of Insect Physiology 53, 877-889.
  • 2008. Origins and relationships of Pacific canoes and rigs. In: Canoes of the Grand Ocean. Di Piazza, A. and Pearthree, E. Eds. BAR International Series No. 1802. Archaeopress. Oxford. ISBN 978 1 4073 0289 8
  • 2009 Horridge, G.A., Generalization in visual recognition by the honeybee (Apis mellifera). A review and explanation. Journal of Insect Physiology 55, 499-511.
  • Horridge, G.A., What does the honeybee see? In How animals see the world. Eds Lazareva, O. Shimizu, T. & Wasserman, E. Oxford Univ Press. 
  • Horridge, G.A., What does an insect see? Journal of Experimental Biology 212,
  • 2009. Horridge, G.A., What does the honeybee see? And how do we know? A critique of scientific reason.  Canberra, ANU ePress.


Updated:  21 May 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB