This book examines the mechanisms and functions of tonic immobility, the so-called death feigning behaviour, or thanatosis, or animal hypnosis. The chapters cover the neurophysiological and experimental studies on insects, the functional significance of death-feigning, examination of the freezing and immobility behaviour in insects through environment, physiology, genetics, and responses to ultrasound and vibration. It also covers tonic immobility and freezing behaviour in fish from the perspective of vertebrates study.
Tonic immobility is an interesting behaviour that occurs reflexively in various animals under physical restraint by predators. The physiological mechanism of thanatosis was extensively investigated during 1960-1980. Researchers have proposed hypotheses to explain the mechanism underlying tonic immobility in vertebrates; local inhibition of the central nervous system, acceleration of the limbic system, abnormal control of the autonomic nervous system. On the other hand, the peripheral and central mechanisms of tonic immobility were intensely investigated at a behavioural and a neuronal level in stick insects and crickets. In the 1970s, behavioural ecology has shed light on the aspect of an ultimate factor for tonic immobility. Ethologists and ecologists challenged this matter in the laboratory and natural habitats, and have collected evidence for its functional roles using mainly insects such as beetles, moths, locusts. More recently, studies of tonic immobility in humans are drawing attention, as clinicians are trying to explain the defencelessness of rape victims from the viewpoint of animal hypnosis.
This timely publication provides an understanding of the past and present research of the mechanisms and functions of tonic immobility. Death-Feigning in Insects is intended for researchers and undergraduate/ graduate students in the field of zoology including physiology, ethology, ecology, and human behaviour. It will also appeal to the public audience who has an interest in animal behaviour, including human behaviour.