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Curr Biol. 2019 Feb 4;29(3):426-434.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.019. Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Threshold-Based Ordering of Sequential Actions during Drosophila Courtship.

Author information

1
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA.
2
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA. Electronic address: jhsimpson@ucsb.edu.
3
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA; Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia. Electronic address: dicksonb@janelia.hhmi.org.

Abstract

Goal-directed animal behaviors are typically composed of sequences of motor actions whose order and timing are critical for a successful outcome. Although numerous theoretical models for sequential action generation have been proposed, few have been supported by the identification of control neurons sufficient to elicit a sequence. Here, we identify a pair of descending neurons that coordinate a stereotyped sequence of engagement actions during Drosophila melanogaster male courtship behavior. These actions are initiated sequentially but persist cumulatively, a feature not explained by existing models of sequential behaviors. We find evidence consistent with a ramp-to-threshold mechanism, in which increasing neuronal activity elicits each action independently at successively higher activity thresholds.

KEYWORDS:

Drosophila; behavior; courtship; motor control; sequence; spike counting; threshold

PMID:
30661796
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.019
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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