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3 Publications

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    12/16/21 | Synaptic targets of photoreceptors specialized to detect color and skylight polarization in .
    Kind E, Longden KD, Nern A, Zhao A, Sancer G, Flynn MA, Laughland CW, Gezahegn B, Ludwig HD, Thomson AG, Obrusnik T, Alarcón PG, Dionne H, Bock DD, Rubin GM, Reiser MB, Wernet MF
    eLife. 2021 Dec 16;10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.71858

    Color and polarization provide complementary information about the world and are detected by specialized photoreceptors. However, the downstream neural circuits that process these distinct modalities are incompletely understood in any animal. Using electron microscopy, we have systematically reconstructed the synaptic targets of the photoreceptors specialized to detect color and skylight polarization in Drosophila, and we have used light microscopy to confirm many of our findings. We identified known and novel downstream targets that are selective for different wavelengths or polarized light, and followed their projections to other areas in the optic lobes and the central brain. Our results revealed many synapses along the photoreceptor axons between brain regions, new pathways in the optic lobes, and spatially segregated projections to central brain regions. Strikingly, photoreceptors in the polarization-sensitive dorsal rim area target fewer cell types, and lack strong connections to the lobula, a neuropil involved in color processing. Our reconstruction identifies shared wiring and modality-specific specializations for color and polarization vision, and provides a comprehensive view of the first steps of the pathways processing color and polarized light inputs.

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    Reiser LabRubin LabFly Functional Connectome
    12/18/17 | Behavioral state modulates the ON visual motion pathway of Drosophila.
    Strother JA, Wu S, Rogers EM, Eliason JL, Wong AM, Nern A, Reiser MB
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Dec 18;115(1):E102-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1703090115

    The behavioral state of an animal can dynamically modulate visual processing. In flies, the behavioral state is known to alter the temporal tuning of neurons that carry visual motion information into the central brain. However, where this modulation occurs and how it tunes the properties of this neural circuit are not well understood. Here, we show that the behavioral state alters the baseline activity levels and the temporal tuning of the first directionally selective neuron in the ON motion pathway (T4) as well as its primary input neurons (Mi1, Tm3, Mi4, Mi9). These effects are especially prominent in the inhibitory neuron Mi4, and we show that central octopaminergic neurons provide input to Mi4 and increase its excitability. We further show that octopamine neurons are required for sustained behavioral responses to fast-moving, but not slow-moving, visual stimuli in walking flies. These results indicate that behavioral-state modulation acts directly on the inputs to the directionally selective neurons and supports efficient neural coding of motion stimuli.

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    Rubin LabReiser LabFly Functional Connectome
    04/05/17 | The emergence of directional selectivity in the visual motion pathway of Drosophila.
    Strother JA, Wu S, Wong AM, Nern A, Rogers EM, Le JQ, Rubin GM, Reiser MB
    Neuron. 2017 Apr 05;94(1):168-182.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.010

    The perception of visual motion is critical for animal navigation, and flies are a prominent model system for exploring this neural computation. In Drosophila, the T4 cells of the medulla are directionally selective and necessary for ON motion behavioral responses. To examine the emergence of directional selectivity, we developed genetic driver lines for the neuron types with the most synapses onto T4 cells. Using calcium imaging, we found that these neuron types are not directionally selective and that selectivity arises in the T4 dendrites. By silencing each input neuron type, we identified which neurons are necessary for T4 directional selectivity and ON motion behavioral responses. We then determined the sign of the connections between these neurons and T4 cells using neuronal photoactivation. Our results indicate a computational architecture for motion detection that is a hybrid of classic theoretical models.

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