Physiology and Biophysics

September 23, 2020

Michael Reiser (Janelia Research Campus) “Inside the fly eye: adventures in understanding structure & function”

May 25, 2023 @ 9:30 am – 10:30 am
HSB G-328 and

Inside the fly eye: adventures in understanding structure & function

Michael Reiser, PhD

Sr Group Leader, HHMI Janelia Research Campus

Many animals navigate through their environment by using the pattern of changes in the visual scene, called optic flow, that is both caused by and serves as a signal of self-motion. Recent research in the Drosophila visual system is providing an increasingly complete explanation for how the fly brain computes optic flow (and other forms of motion vision). I will discuss my group’s progress on three aspects of this beautiful puzzle:

1.     How small, Directionally Selective (DS) neurons compute the direction of local motion. This long-standing mystery has been recently clarified by EM connectomics, electrophysiology, and biophysical modeling.

2.     Since a visual system cannot be arbitrarily sensitive to all directions of motion at all retinal positions, we’ve described the precise organization of the DS neuron array, revealing an unexpectedly strong connection between the eye’s peripheral structure, function of neurons deep in the brain, and body movement control.

3.     A diverse group of neuron types integrate input signals from DS neurons to generate a broad range of motion-pattern selectivities. By using computational neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, quantitative behavior, and genetic manipulation of neural activity, we identified cell types that detect visual looming, wide-field visual motion, and translatory optic flow.

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