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How is tracking and fixation accomplished in the nervous system of the fly musca domestica a behavioral analysis based on short time stimulation



How is tracking and fixation accomplished in the nervous system of the fly musca domestica a behavioral analysis based on short time stimulation



Biological Cybernetics 38(3): 179-186



The optomotor yaw torque response of fixed flying female houseflies, M. domestica, to 3 different types of visual stimuli was analyzed. The stimuli were displayed for short time intervals in order to approximate transiently occurring visual stimuli, which mainly govern the torque generation during free flight. Monocular stimulation with a periodic pattern moving in different positions in the equatorial plane of the compound eyes reveals that flight torque responses are mainly induced by progressive (front to back) motion; regressively moving stimuli are significantly less effective. The strength of the response to motion in the horizontal direction depends on the position of the stimulus, and vertical motions do not elicit flight torque responses. The response to a single vertical black stripe moving clockwise in a cylindrical panorama centered around the fly is small if the stripe is in the visual field of the left eye but becomes large and strongly dependent on position if the stripe enters the visual field of the right eye. The response to counterclockwide motion of the stripe is small if the stripe is in the visual field of the right eye but becomes large and strongly dependent on position if the stripe enters the visual field of the left eye. Torque responses to 2 adjacent stripes whose intensities are modulated in time with a rectangular function can be elicited if apparent motion is generated by means of a phase difference between the intensity modulations of the 2 stripes. Apparent progressive motion elicits strong torque responses; apparent regressive motion is less effective. Synchronous flicker of both stripes does not elicit torque responses. The extraction of positional information from the incoming visual signals plays an important role in orientation behavior and especially in the tracking behavior of flies. Under transient stimulation the evaluation of positional information is not mediated by formerly postulated flicker detectors but is bound to the computation of motion. These findings are implemented in a model, describing the free flight tracking behavior of a female fly on the horizontal plane. Tracking can be achieved by a mechanism whose sensitivity to motion is parameterized in the stimulus position as outlined above. Results are interpreted in view of electrophysiological and anatomical data on giant interneurons in the 3rd optic ganglion of the fly.

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