Processing of horizontal optic flow in three visual interneurons of the Drosophila brain Journal Article

Author(s): Schnell, Bettina; Jösch, Maximilian; Förstner, Friedrich; Raghu, Shamprasad V; Otsuna, Hideo; Ito, Kei; Borst, Alexander; Reiff, Dierk F
Article Title: Processing of horizontal optic flow in three visual interneurons of the Drosophila brain
Abstract: Motion vision is essential for navigating through the environment. Due to its genetic amenability, the fruit fly Drosophila has been serving for a lengthy period as a model organism for studying optomotor behavior as elicited by large-field horizontal motion. However, the neurons underlying the control of this behavior have not been studied in Drosophila so far. Here we report the first whole cell recordings from three cells of the horizontal system (HSN, HSE, and HSS) in the lobula plate of Drosophila. All three HS cells are tuned to large-field horizontal motion in a direction-selective way; they become excited by front-to-back motion and inhibited by back-to-front motion in the ipsilateral field of view. The response properties of HS cells such as contrast and velocity dependence are in accordance with the correlation-type model of motion detection. Neurobiotin injection suggests extensive coupling among ipsilateral HS cells and additional coupling to tangential cells that have their dendrites in the contralateral hemisphere of the brain. This connectivity scheme accounts for the complex layout of their receptive fields and explains their sensitivity both to ipsilateral and to contralateral motion. Thus the main response properties of Drosophila HS cells are strikingly similar to the responses of their counterparts in the blowfly Calliphora, although we found substantial differences with respect to their dendritic structure and connectivity. This long-awaited functional characterization of HS cells in Drosophila provides the basis for the future dissection of optomotor behavior and the underlying neural circuitry by combining genetics, physiology, and behavior.
Keywords: Drosophila; Dendrite; visuomotor coordination; correlation analysis
Journal Title: Journal of Neurophysiology
Volume: 103
Issue 3
ISSN: 0022-3077
Publisher: American Physiological Society  
Date Published: 2010-03-01
Start Page: 1646
End Page: 1657
Sponsor: This work was supported by the Max-Planck-Society and by a Human Frontier Science Program grant to K. Ito, A. Borst, and B. Nelson.
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00950.2009
Open access: no