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Neuron. 2008 Jul 31;59(2):322-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.05.022.

Motion processing streams in Drosophila are behaviorally specialized.

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Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Motion vision is an ancient faculty, critical to many animals in a range of ethological contexts, the underlying algorithms of which provide central insights into neural computation. However, how motion cues guide behavior is poorly understood, as the neural circuits that implement these computations are largely unknown in any organism. We develop a systematic, forward genetic approach using high-throughput, quantitative behavioral analyses to identify the neural substrates of motion vision in Drosophila in an unbiased fashion. We then delimit the behavioral contributions of both known and novel circuit elements. Contrary to expectation from previous studies, we find that orienting responses to motion are shaped by at least two neural pathways. These pathways are sensitive to different visual features, diverge immediately postsynaptic to photoreceptors, and are coupled to distinct behavioral outputs. Thus, behavioral responses to complex stimuli can rely on surprising neural specialization from even the earliest sensory processing stages.

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