Picture of Jack Gray

Jack Gray B.Sc.,M.Sc.,Ph.D.


Faculty Member in Biology

CSRB 120.2

Research Area(s)

  • Neural control of animal behaviour
  • Biologically-inspired algorithms for artificial systems
  • Behavioural and neurophysiological aspects of adaptive insect flight
  • Investigating interactions between an animal's external environment and its nervous system
  • Effects of pesticides on neural function

About me



Research articles:


Parkinson, R.H., Fecher, C. and J.R. Gray (2022) Chronic exposure to insecticides impairs honeybee optomotor behaviour. Front. Insect Sci. 2:936826, doi: 10.3389/finsc.2022.936826.

Olson, E.G.N., Wiens, T.K. and J.R. Gray. (2021) A model of feedforward, global, and lateral inhibition in the locust visual system predicts responses to looming stimuli. Biol Cybern 115: 245–265.

Parkinson, R. H., Zhang, S., & J.R. Gray. (2020). Neonicotinoid and sulfoximine pesticides differentially impair insect escape behavior and motion detection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(10), 5510-5515.

Parkinson. R.H. and J.R. Gray. (2019) Neural conduction, visual motion detection, and insect flight behaviour are disrupted by low doses of imidacloprid and its metabolites. Neurotoxicology. 72:107-113.

T.P. Stott, E.G.N. Olson, R.H. Parkinson and J.R. Gray. (2018) Three-dimensional shape and velocity changes affect responses of a locust visual interneuron to approaching objects.Journal of Experimental Biology.Doi: 10.1242/jeb.191320

P.C. Dick, N.L. Michel and J.R. Gray. (2017) Complex object motion represented by context-dependent correlated activity of visual interneurones. Physiological Reports

R.H. Parkinson, J.M. Little andJ.R. Gray. (2017) A sublethal dose of a neonicotinoid insecticide disrupts visual processing and collision avoidance behaviour in Locusta migratoria. Sci. Rep.7: 936 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01039-1. 

J.M. Yakubowski, G.A. McMillanand J.R. Gray. (2016) Background visual motion affects responses of an insect motion‐sensitive neuron to objects deviating from a collision course. Physiological Reports4: e12801–15. 

G.A. McMillan andJ.R. Gray. (2015) Burst firing in a motion-sensitive neural pathway correlates with expansion properties of looming objects that evoke avoidance behaviors. Front. Integr. Neurosci.9: 233–30.

A.C. Silva, G.A. McMillan, C.P. Santos and J.R. Gray (2015)  Background complexity affects the response of a looming-sensitive neuron to object motion. Journal of Neurophysiol. 113:218-231.

I. Benaragama and J.R. Gray (2014) Responses of a pair of flying locusts to lateral looming visual stimuli. J. Comp. Physiol. [A]. 200: 723-738.

P.C. Dick and J.R. Gray (2014) Spatiotemporal stimulus properties modulate responses to trajectory changes in a locust looming-sensitive pathway. J. Neurophysiol. 111: 1736-1745.

G.A. McMillan, V. Loessin and J.R. Gray (2013) Bilateral flight muscle activity predicts wing kinematics and 3-dimensional body orientation of locusts responding to looming objects. J. Exp. Biol. 216: 3369-3380.

G.A. McMillan and J.R. Gray (2012)  A looming sensitive pathway responds to changes in the trajectory of object motion.  J. Neurophysiol. 108:1052-1068.

J.R. Gray, E. Bincow and R.M. Robertson (2010)  A pair of motion-sensitive neurons in the locust encode approaches of a looming object.  J. Comp. Physiol. [A] 196: 927-938.

R. Verspui and J.R. Gray (2009) Visual stimuli induced by self-motion and object-motion modify odour-guided flight of male moths (Manduca sexta L.).  J. Exp. Biol.  212: 3272-3282.

B.B. Guest and J.R. Gray, 2006.  Responses of a looming-sensitive neuron to compound and paired object approaches. J. Neurophysiol. 95:1428-1441.

J.R. Gray.  2005.  Habituated visual neurons in locusts remain sensitive to novel looming objects.  J. Exp. Biol.  208:2515-2532.

J.R. Gray and J.C. Weeks. 2003.  Steroid-induced dendritic regression reduces anatomical contacts between neurons during synaptic weakening and the developmental loss of behavior.  J. Neurosci. 23:1406-1415.

J.R. Gray, V. Pawlowski and M.A. Willis.  2002.  A method for recording behavior and multineuronal CNS activity from tethered insects flying in virtual space.  J. Neurosci.Methods. 120(2):211-223.

J.R. Gray, J.K. Lee and R.M. Robertson.  2001.  Activity of DCMD neurons and collision avoidance behaviour in response to head-on visual stimuli in locusts.  J. Comp. Physiol. [A] 187: 115-129.

J.R. Gray and R.M. Robertson.  1998.  Effects of heat stress on axonal  conduction in the locust flight system.  Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 120: 181-186.

J.R. Gray.  1997.  Neurons associated with a novel motor pattern expressed during metamorphosis of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta.  Biol. Bull. 193: 259-260.

J.R. Gray and R.M. Robertson.  1997.  Co-ordination of the flight motor pattern with forewing stretch receptor stimulation in immature and mature adult locusts.  Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 118:(1): 125-130.

J.R. Gray and R.M. Robertson.  1996.  Structure of the forewing stretch receptor axon in immature and mature adult locusts.  J. Comp. Neurol. 365: 268-277.

J.R. Gray and R.M. Robertson.  1994.  Activity of the forewing stretch receptor in immature and mature adult locusts.  J. Comp. Physiol. [A] 175: 425-435.


Book Chapters:

M.A. Frye and J.R. Gray, 2005.  Mechanosensory integration for flight control in insects. In: Methods in insect sensory neuroscience (ed. Christensen, T. A.), pp.107-128. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

J.R. Gray and R.M. Robertson, 2005. Sensory coding: extracellular recording from the wing hinge stretch receptor of the locust. In: Laboratory manual for physiology (eds. Silverthorn, D. U., Johnson, B. R., and Mills, A. E.), pp. 297-306. San Francisco: Pearson Education Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings.

Teaching & Supervision

Neurobiology Physiology

Biol 120 - The Nature of Life

Math 125 - Mathematics for the Life Sciences

Biol 317 - Fundamentals of Animal Physiology

Biol 430 - Neurobiology of Behaviour

Biol 830 - Advanced Neurobiology of Behaviour


Animal behaviour Biorobotics Insect Neuroethology Neurophysiology Neuroscience

My research goal is to understand general principles of how animal nervous systems produce and control complex behaviours in challenging environments. To do this, we need to understand important features of an animal’s environment, how its nervous system detects these features, and how decisions are made to generate appropriate responses. To address this issue, we study behavioural and neurophysiological aspects of adaptive insect flight. We use model systems in which there is a strong background of behavioural and physiological knowledge upon which to build. These models include collision avoidance in locusts and visually guided orientation in bees. Our research uses a combination of physiological and behaviour recording techniques that permit direct correlations between aspects of an insect's environment and locomotion behaviour as well as combined activity within the nervous system. These approaches incorporate a virtual reality-based insect flight simulator in conjunction with multi-neuronal recording techniques from the insect's central nervous system. We also use data to construct computational rules to guide artificial systems (computer models and robots). Additionally, we study how stressors (starvation, pesticides, etc.) impair visual detection and natural behaviour in locusts and bees.

Education & Training

B.Sc.  University fo Winnipeg (1987)

M.Sc.  University of Guelph (1991)

Ph.D.  Queen's University (1995)