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J Comp Neurol. 2012 Oct 1;520(14):3088-104. doi: 10.1002/cne.23134.

The central complex of the flesh fly, Neobellieria bullata: recordings and morphologies of protocerebral inputs and small-field neurons.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


The central complex in the brains of insects is a series of midline neuropils involved in motor control, sensory integration, and associative learning. To understand better the role of this center and its supply of sensory information, intracellular recordings and dye fills were made of central complex neurons in the fly, Neobellieria bullata. Recordings were obtained from 24 neurons associated with the ellipsoid body, fan-shaped body, and protocerebral bridge, all of which receive both visual and mechanosensory information from protocerebral centers. One neuron with dendrites in an area of the lateral protocerebrum associated with motion-sensitive outputs from the optic lobes invades the entire protocerebral bridge and was driven by visual motion. Inputs to the fan-shaped body and ellipsoid body responded both to visual stimuli and to air puffs directed at the head and abdomen. Intrinsic neurons in both of these structures respond to changes in illumination. A putative output neuron connecting the protocerebral bridge, the fan-shaped body, and one of the lateral accessory lobes showed opponent responses to moving visual stimuli. These recordings identify neurons with response properties previously known only from extracellular recordings in other species. Dye injections into neurons connecting the central complex with areas of the protocerebrum suggest that some classes of inputs into the central complex are electrically coupled.

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