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2 Publications

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    05/21/14 | Wide-field feedback neurons dynamically tune early visual processing.
    Tuthill JC, Nern A, Rubin GM, Reiser MB
    Neuron. 2014 May 21;82(4):887-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.04.023

    An important strategy for efficient neural coding is to match the range of cellular responses to the distribution of relevant input signals. However, the structure and relevance of sensory signals depend on behavioral state. Here, we show that behavior modifies neural activity at the earliest stages of fly vision. We describe a class of wide-field neurons that provide feedback to the most peripheral layer of the Drosophila visual system, the lamina. Using in vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology, we found that lamina wide-field neurons respond to low-frequency luminance fluctuations. Recordings in flying flies revealed that the gain and frequency tuning of wide-field neurons change during flight, and that these effects are mimicked by the neuromodulator octopamine. Genetically silencing wide-field neurons increased behavioral responses to slow-motion stimuli. Together, these findings identify a cell type that is gated by behavior to enhance neural coding by subtracting low-frequency signals from the inputs to motion detection circuits.

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    05/05/14 | Direct observation of ON and OFF pathways in the Drosophila visual system.
    Strother JA, Nern A, Reiser MB
    Current Biology. 2014 May 5;24(9):976-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.017

    Visual motion perception is critical to many animal behaviors, and flies have emerged as a powerful model system for exploring this fundamental neural computation. Although numerous studies have suggested that fly motion vision is governed by a simple neural circuit [1-3], the implementation of this circuit has remained mysterious for decades. Connectomics and neurogenetics have produced a surge in recent progress, and several studies have shown selectivity for light increments (ON) or decrements (OFF) in key elements associated with this circuit [4-7]. However, related studies have reached disparate conclusions about where this selectivity emerges and whether it plays a major role in motion vision [8-13]. To address these questions, we examined activity in the neuropil thought to be responsible for visual motion detection, the medulla, of Drosophila melanogaster in response to a range of visual stimuli using two-photon calcium imaging. We confirmed that the input neurons of the medulla, the LMCs, are not responsible for light-on and light-off selectivity. We then examined the pan-neural response of medulla neurons and found prominent selectivity for light-on and light-off in layers of the medulla associated with two anatomically derived pathways (L1/L2 associated) [14, 15]. We next examined the activity of prominent interneurons within each pathway (Mi1 and Tm1) and found that these neurons have corresponding selectivity for light-on or light-off. These results provide direct evidence that motion is computed in parallel light-on and light-off pathways, demonstrate that this selectivity emerges in neurons immediately downstream of the LMCs, and specify where crucial elements of motion computation occur.

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