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Genetic Dissection of the Fly Visual Course Control

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Visual navigation has been studied extensively in flies, both in tethered as well as in freely flying animals. As neural control elements, the tangential cells of the lobula plate seem to play a key role: they are sensitive to visual motion, have large receptive fields, and, with their spatial distribution of preferred directions, match the optic flow as elicited during certain types of flight maneuvers. However, several key questions have remained unanswered for long: 1. What is the neural circuit presynaptic to the tangential cells responsible for extracting the local direction of motion? 2. Do the lobula plate tangential cells indeed control turning responses of the fly? 3. Is there a separate visual course control system allowing the fly to detect and track individual objects? I will present recent progress towards answering these questions made by combining whole-cell patch recording and behavioral studies with silencing and optogenetic stimulation of genetically targeted candidate neurons in Drosophila.

References.

Borst, A., Haag, J. & Reiff, D.F. (2010). Fly Motion Vision. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 33, 49–70.

Eichner, H., Joesch, M., Schnell, B. & Borst, A. (2011). Internal Structure of the Fly Elementary Motion Detector. Neuron 70, 1155–1164.

Joesch, M., Schnell, B., Varija Raghu, S., Reiff, D.F. & Borst, A. (2010). On and Off Pathways in Drosophila Motion Vision. Nature, L468 , 300-304.

This talk is part of the Adrian Seminars in Neuroscience series.

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