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Card Lab / Publications
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19 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 19 results
11/06/18 | Tools for rapid high-resolution behavioral phenotyping of automatically isolated Drosophila.
Williamson WR, Peek MY, Breads P, Coop B, Card GM
Cell Reports. 2018 Nov 06;25(6):1636-1649.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.10.048

Sparse manipulation of neuron excitability during free behavior is critical for identifying neural substrates of behavior. Genetic tools for precise neuronal manipulation exist in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, but behavioral tools are still lacking to identify potentially subtle phenotypes only detectible using high-throughput and high spatiotemporal resolution. We developed three assay components that can be used modularly to study natural and optogenetically induced behaviors. FlyGate automatically releases flies one at a time into an assay. FlyDetect tracks flies in real time, is robust to severe occlusions, and can be used to track appendages, such as the head. GlobeDisplay is a spherical projection system covering the fly's visual receptive field with a single projector. We demonstrate the utility of these components in an integrated system, FlyPEZ, by comprehensively modeling the input-output function for directional looming-evoked escape takeoffs and describing a millisecond-timescale phenotype from genetic silencing of a single visual projection neuron type.

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09/12/18 | Speed dependent descending control of freezing behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.
Zacarias R, Namiki S, Card GM, Vasconcelos ML, Moita MA
Nature Communications. 2018 Sep 12;9(1):3697. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05875-1

The most fundamental choice an animal has to make when it detects a threat is whether to freeze, reducing its chances of being noticed, or to flee to safety. Here we show that Drosophila melanogaster exposed to looming stimuli in a confined arena either freeze or flee. The probability of freezing versus fleeing is modulated by the fly's walking speed at the time of threat, demonstrating that freeze/flee decisions depend on behavioral state. We describe a pair of descending neurons crucially implicated in freezing. Genetic silencing of DNp09 descending neurons disrupts freezing yet does not prevent fleeing. Optogenetic activation of both DNp09 neurons induces running and freezing in a state-dependent manner. Our findings establish walking speed as a key factor in defensive response choices and reveal a pair of descending neurons as a critical component in the circuitry mediating selection and execution of freezing or fleeing behaviors.

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12/09/17 | Optogenetic dissection of descending behavioral control in Drosophila.
Cande J, Namiki S, Qiu J, Korff W, Card GM, Shaevitz JW, Stern DL, Berman GJ
eLife. 2018:e34275. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34275

In most animals, the brain makes behavioral decisions that are transmitted by descending neurons to the nerve cord circuitry that produces behaviors. In insects, only a few descending neurons have been associated with specific behaviors. To explore how descending neurons control an insect's movements, we developed a novel method to systematically assay the behavioral effects of activating individual neurons on freely behaving terrestrial D. melanogaster. We calculated a two-dimensional representation of the entire behavior space explored by these flies and we associated descending neurons with specific behaviors by identifying regions of this space that were visited with increased frequency during optogenetic activation. Applying this approach across a large collection of descending neurons, we found that (1) activation of most of the descending neurons drove stereotyped behaviors, (2) in many cases multiple descending neurons activated similar behaviors, and (3) optogenetically-activated behaviors were often dependent on the behavioral state prior to activation.

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06/26/18 | The functional organization of descending sensory-motor pathways in Drosophila.
Namiki S, Dickinson MH, Wong AM, Korff W, Card GM
eLife. 2018 Jun 26:e34272. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34272

In most animals, the brain controls the body via a set of descending neurons (DNs) that traverse the neck. DN activity activates, maintains or modulates locomotion and other behaviors. Individual DNs have been well-studied in species from insects to primates, but little is known about overall connectivity patterns across the DN population. We systematically investigated DN anatomy in Drosophila melanogaster and created over 100 transgenic lines targeting individual cell types. We identified roughly half of all Drosophila DNs and comprehensively map connectivity between sensory and motor neuropils in the brain and nerve cord, respectively. We find the nerve cord is a layered system of neuropils reflecting the fly's capability for two largely independent means of locomotion -- walking and flight -- using distinct sets of appendages. Our results reveal the basic functional map of descending pathways in flies and provide tools for systematic interrogation of neural circuits.

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11/08/17 | Ultra-selective looming detection from radial motion opponency.
Klapoetke NC, Nern A, Peek MY, Rogers EM, Breads P, Rubin GM, Reiser MB, Card GM
Nature. 2017 Nov 08;551(7679):237-241. doi: 10.1038/nature24626

Nervous systems combine lower-level sensory signals to detect higher-order stimulus features critical to survival, such as the visual looming motion created by an imminent collision or approaching predator. Looming-sensitive neurons have been identified in diverse animal species. Different large-scale visual features such as looming often share local cues, which means loom-detecting neurons face the challenge of rejecting confounding stimuli. Here we report the discovery of an ultra-selective looming detecting neuron, lobula plate/lobula columnar, type II (LPLC2) in Drosophila, and show how its selectivity is established by radial motion opponency. In the fly visual system, directionally selective small-field neurons called T4 and T5 form a spatial map in the lobula plate, where they each terminate in one of four retinotopic layers, such that each layer responds to motion in a different cardinal direction. Single-cell anatomical analysis reveals that each arm of the LPLC2 cross-shaped primary dendrites ramifies in one of these layers and extends along that layer's preferred motion direction. In vivo calcium imaging demonstrates that, as their shape predicts, individual LPLC2 neurons respond strongly to outward motion emanating from the centre of the neuron's receptive field. Each dendritic arm also receives local inhibitory inputs directionally selective for inward motion opposing the excitation. This radial motion opponency generates a balance of excitation and inhibition that makes LPLC2 non-responsive to related patterns of motion such as contraction, wide-field rotation or luminance change. As a population, LPLC2 neurons densely cover visual space and terminate onto the giant fibre descending neurons, which drive the jump muscle motor neuron to trigger an escape take off. Our findings provide a mechanistic description of the selective feature detection that flies use to discern and escape looming threats.

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07/13/17 | Mapping the neural substrates of behavior.
Robie AA, Hirokawa J, Edwards AW, Umayam LA, Lee A, Phillips ML, Card GM, Korff W, Rubin GM, Simpson JH, Reiser MB, Branson KM
Cell. 2017-07-13;170(2):393-406. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.032

Assigning behavioral functions to neural structures has long been a central goal in neuroscience and is a necessary first step toward a circuit-level understanding of how the brain generates behavior. Here, we map the neural substrates of locomotion and social behaviors for Drosophila melanogaster using automated machine-vision and machine-learning techniques. From videos of 400,000 flies, we quantified the behavioral effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted populations of neurons. We combined a novel quantification of anatomy with our behavioral analysis to create brain-behavior correlation maps, which are shared as browsable web pages and interactive software. Based on these maps, we generated hypotheses of regions of the brain causally related to sensory processing, locomotor control, courtship, aggression, and sleep. Our maps directly specify genetic tools to target these regions, which we used to identify a small population of neurons with a role in the control of walking.

•We developed machine-vision methods to broadly and precisely quantify fly behavior•We measured effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted neuronal populations•We created whole-brain maps of neural substrates of locomotor and social behaviors•We created resources for exploring our results and enabling further investigation

Machine-vision analyses of large behavior and neuroanatomy data reveal whole-brain maps of regions associated with numerous complex behaviors.

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06/21/17 | Feature integration drives probabilistic behavior in the Drosophila escape response.
von Reyn CR, Nern A, Williamson WR, Breads P, Wu M, Namiki S, Card GM
Neuron. 2017 Jun 21;94(6):1190-204. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.05.036

Animals rely on dedicated sensory circuits to extract and encode environmental features. How individual neurons integrate and translate these features into behavioral responses remains a major question. Here, we identify a visual projection neuron type that conveys predator approach information to the Drosophila giant fiber (GF) escape circuit. Genetic removal of this input during looming stimuli reveals that it encodes angular expansion velocity, whereas other input cell type(s) encode angular size. Motor program selection and timing emerge from linear integration of these two features within the GF. Linear integration improves size detection invariance over prior models and appropriately biases motor selection to rapid, GF-mediated escapes during fast looms. Our findings suggest feature integration, and motor control may occur as simultaneous operations within the same neuron and establish the Drosophila escape circuit as a model system in which these computations may be further dissected at the circuit level.

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04/26/17 | A systematic nomenclature for the Drosophila ventral nervous system.
Court RC, Armstrong JD, Borner J, Card GM, Costa M, Dickinson MH, Duch C, Korff W, Mann RS, Merritt D, Murphey RK, Namiki S, Seeds AM, Shepherd D, Shirangi TR, Simpson JH, Truman JW, Tuthill JC, Williams DW
bioRxiv. 2017 Apr 26:. doi: 10.1101/122952

Insect nervous systems are proven and powerful model systems for neuroscience research with wide relevance in biology and medicine. However, descriptions of insect brains have suffered from a lack of a complete and uniform nomenclature. Recognising this problem the Insect Brain Name Working Group produced the first agreed hierarchical nomenclature system for the adult insect brain, using Drosophila melanogaster as the reference framework, with other insect taxa considered to ensure greater consistency and expandability (Ito et al., 2014). Ito et al. (2014) purposely focused on the gnathal regions that account for approximately 50% of the adult CNS. We extend this nomenclature system to the sub-gnathal regions of the adult Drosophila nervous system to provide a nomenclature of the so-called ventral nervous system (VNS), which includes the thoracic and abdominal neuromeres that was not included in the original work and contains the neurons that play critical roles underpinning most fly behaviours.

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12/28/16 | Visual projection neurons in the Drosophila lobula link feature detection to distinct behavioral programs.
Wu M, Nern A, Williamson WR, Morimoto MM, Reiser MB, Card GM, Rubin GM
eLife. 2016 Dec 28;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.21022

Visual projection neurons (VPNs) provide an anatomical connection between early visual processing and higher brain regions. Here we characterize lobula columnar (LC) cells, a class of Drosophila VPNs that project to distinct central brain structures called optic glomeruli. We anatomically describe 22 different LC types and show that, for several types, optogenetic activation in freely moving flies evokes specific behaviors. The activation phenotypes of two LC types closely resemble natural avoidance behaviors triggered by a visual loom. In vivo two-photon calcium imaging reveals that these LC types respond to looming stimuli, while another type does not, but instead responds to the motion of a small object. Activation of LC neurons on only one side of the brain can result in attractive or aversive turning behaviors depending on the cell type. Our results indicate that LC neurons convey information on the presence and location of visual features relevant for specific behaviors.

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10/03/16 | Comparative approaches to escape.
Peek MY, Card GM
Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Oct 3;41:167-173. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.09.012

Neural circuits mediating visually evoked escape behaviors are promising systems in which to dissect the neural basis of behavior. Behavioral responses to predator-like looming stimuli, and their underlying neural computations, are remarkably similar across species. Recently, genetic tools have been applied in this classical paradigm, revealing novel non-cortical pathways that connect loom processing to defensive behaviors in mammals and demonstrating that loom encoding models from locusts also fit vertebrate neural responses. In both invertebrates and vertebrates, relative spike-timing in descending pathways is a mechanism for escape behavior choice. Current findings suggest that experimentally tractable systems, such as Drosophila, may be applicable models for sensorimotor processing and persistent states in higher organisms.

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