Picture of Dr. Jack Gray

Dr. Jack Gray BSc, MSc, PhD Faculty, Biology

Research Areas

  • Neural control of animal behaviour
  • Biologically-inspired algorithms for artificial systems

About Dr. Jack Gray

Teaching & Supervision
  • 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


My long-term research goal is to discover general principles of how nervous systems produce and control complex adaptive behaviours. Attaining this goal requires a comprehensive approach to investigating interactions between an animal's external environment and its nervous system. To address this issue I study behavioural and neurophysiological aspects of adaptive insect flight. I 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 odour-guided flight of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. My research ues a combination of physiological and behaviour recording techniques that permit direct correlations between aspects of an insect's environment and flight behaviour as well as ensemble activity within the CNS. These approaches incorporate a virtual reality-based insect flight simulator in conjunction with multi-neuronal recording techniques from the insect's CNS.

Selected Publications

Research articles:

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. in press.


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.