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Card Lab / Publications
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14 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 14 results
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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05/25/16 | Genetic and environmental control of neurodevelopmental robustness in Drosophila.
Mellert DJ, Williamson WR, Shirangi TR, Card GM, Truman JW
PLoS One. 2016 May 25;11(5):e0155957. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155957

Interindividual differences in neuronal wiring may contribute to behavioral individuality and affect susceptibility to neurological disorders. To investigate the causes and potential consequences of wiring variation in Drosophila melanogaster, we focused on a hemilineage of ventral nerve cord interneurons that exhibits morphological variability. We find that late-born subclasses of the 12A hemilineage are highly sensitive to genetic and environmental variation. Neurons in the second thoracic segment are particularly variable with regard to two developmental decisions, whereas its segmental homologs are more robust. This variability "hotspot" depends on Ultrabithorax expression in the 12A neurons, indicating variability is cell-intrinsic and under genetic control. 12A development is more variable and sensitive to temperature in long-established laboratory strains than in strains recently derived from the wild. Strains with a high frequency of one of the 12A variants also showed a high frequency of animals with delayed spontaneous flight initiation, whereas other wing-related behaviors did not show such a correlation and were thus not overtly affected by 12A variation. These results show that neurodevelopmental robustness is variable and under genetic control in Drosophila and suggest that the fly may serve as a model for identifying conserved gene pathways that stabilize wiring in stressful developmental environments. Moreover, some neuronal lineages are variation hotspots and thus may be more amenable to evolutionary change.

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07/17/14 | A spike-timing mechanism for action selection.
von Reyn CR, Breads P, Peek MY, Zheng GZ, Williamson WR, Yee AL, Leonardo A, Card GM
Nature Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 17;17(7):962-70. doi: 10.1038/nn.3741

We discovered a bimodal behavior in the genetically tractable organism Drosophila melanogaster that allowed us to directly probe the neural mechanisms of an action selection process. When confronted by a predator-mimicking looming stimulus, a fly responds with either a long-duration escape behavior sequence that initiates stable flight or a distinct, short-duration sequence that sacrifices flight stability for speed. Intracellular recording of the descending giant fiber (GF) interneuron during head-fixed escape revealed that GF spike timing relative to parallel circuits for escape actions determined which of the two behavioral responses was elicited. The process was well described by a simple model in which the GF circuit has a higher activation threshold than the parallel circuits, but can override ongoing behavior to force a short takeoff. Our findings suggest a neural mechanism for action selection in which relative activation timing of parallel circuits creates the appropriate motor output.

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04/01/12 | Escape behaviors in insects.
Card GM
Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2012 Apr;22:180-6. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.12.009

Escape behaviors are, by necessity, fast and robust, making them excellent systems with which to study the neural basis of behavior. This is especially true in insects, which have comparatively tractable nervous systems and members who are amenable to manipulation with genetic tools. Recent technical developments in high-speed video reveal that, despite their short duration, insect escape behaviors are more complex than previously appreciated. For example, before initiating an escape jump, a fly performs sophisticated posture and stimulus-dependent preparatory leg movements that enable it to jump away from a looming threat. This newfound flexibility raises the question of how the nervous system generates a behavior that is both rapid and flexible. Recordings from the cricket nervous system suggest that synchrony between the activity of specific interneuron pairs may provide a rapid cue for the cricket to detect the direction of an approaching predator and thus which direction it should run. Technical advances make possible wireless recording from neurons while locusts escape from a looming threat, enabling, for the first time, a direct correlation between the activity of multiple neurons and the time-course of an insect escape behavior.

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09/01/09 | Flight dynamics and control of evasive maneuvers: the fruit fly’s takeoff.
Zabala FA, Card GM, Fontaine EI, Dickinson MH, Murray RM
IEEE Transactions on Bio-Medical Engineering. 2009 Sep;56(9):2295-8. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2027606

We have approached the problem of reverse-engineering the flight control mechanism of the fruit fly by studying the dynamics of the responses to a visual stimulus during takeoff. Building upon a prior framework [G. Card and M. Dickinson, J. Exp. Biol., vol. 211, pp. 341-353, 2008], we seek to understand the strategies employed by the animal to stabilize attitude and orientation during these evasive, highly dynamical maneuvers. As a first step, we consider the dynamics from a gray-box perspective: examining lumped forces produced by the insect’s legs and wings. The reconstruction of the flight initiation dynamics, based on the unconstrained motion formulation for a rigid body, allows us to assess the fly’s responses to a variety of initial conditions induced by its jump. Such assessment permits refinement by using a visual tracking algorithm to extract the kinematic envelope of the wings [E. I. Fontaine, F. Zabala, M. Dickinson, and J. Burdick, "Wing and body motion during flight initiation in Drosophila revealed by automated visual tracking," submitted for publication] in order to estimate lift and drag forces [F. Zabala, M. Dickinson, and R. Murray, "Control and stability of insect flight during highly dynamical maneuvers," submitted for publication], and recording actual leg-joint kinematics and using them to estimate jump forces [F. Zabala, "A bio-inspired model for directionality control of flight initiation," to be published.]. In this paper, we present the details of our approach in a comprehensive manner, including the salient results.

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01/27/09 | Dynamics of escaping flight initiations of Drosophila melanogaster.
Zabalax FA, Card GM, Fontaine EI, Murray RM, Dickinson MH
2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics. 2008:. doi: 10.1109/BIOROB.2008.4762921

We present a reconstruction of the dynamics of flight initiation from kinematic data extracted from high-speed video recordings of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The dichotomy observed in this insect’s flight initiation sequences, generated by the presence or absence of visual stimuli, clearly generates two contrasting sets of dynamics once the flies become airborne. By calculating reaction forces and moments using the unconstrained motion formulation for a rigid body, we assess the fly’s responses amidst these two dynamic patterns as a step towards refining our understanding of insect flight control.

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