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      How fly neurons compute the direction of visual motion

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          Detecting the direction of image motion is a fundamental component of visual computation, essential for survival of the animal. However, at the level of individual photoreceptors, the direction in which the image is shifting is not explicitly represented. Rather, directional motion information needs to be extracted from the photoreceptor array by comparing the signals of neighboring units over time. The exact nature of this process as implemented in the visual system of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been studied in great detail, and much progress has recently been made in determining the neural circuits giving rise to directional motion information. The results reveal the following: (1) motion information is computed in parallel ON and OFF pathways. (2) Within each pathway, T4 (ON) and T5 (OFF) cells are the first neurons to represent the direction of motion. Four subtypes of T4 and T5 cells exist, each sensitive to one of the four cardinal directions. (3) The core process of direction selectivity as implemented on the dendrites of T4 and T5 cells comprises both an enhancement of signals for motion along their preferred direction as well as a suppression of signals for motion along the opposite direction. This combined strategy ensures a high degree of direction selectivity right at the first stage where the direction of motion is computed. (4) At the subsequent processing stage, tangential cells spatially integrate direct excitation from ON and OFF-selective T4 and T5 cells and indirect inhibition from bi-stratified LPi cells activated by neighboring T4/T5 terminals, thus generating flow-field-selective responses.

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          Most cited references 73

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          Optimization of a GCaMP calcium indicator for neural activity imaging.

          Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Recent efforts in protein engineering have significantly increased the performance of GECIs. The state-of-the art single-wavelength GECI, GCaMP3, has been deployed in a number of model organisms and can reliably detect three or more action potentials in short bursts in several systems in vivo. Through protein structure determination, targeted mutagenesis, high-throughput screening, and a battery of in vitro assays, we have increased the dynamic range of GCaMP3 by severalfold, creating a family of "GCaMP5" sensors. We tested GCaMP5s in several systems: cultured neurons and astrocytes, mouse retina, and in vivo in Caenorhabditis chemosensory neurons, Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction and adult antennal lobe, zebrafish retina and tectum, and mouse visual cortex. Signal-to-noise ratio was improved by at least 2- to 3-fold. In the visual cortex, two GCaMP5 variants detected twice as many visual stimulus-responsive cells as GCaMP3. By combining in vivo imaging with electrophysiology we show that GCaMP5 fluorescence provides a more reliable measure of neuronal activity than its predecessor GCaMP3. GCaMP5 allows more sensitive detection of neural activity in vivo and may find widespread applications for cellular imaging in general.
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            A simple white noise analysis of neuronal light responses.

            A white noise technique is presented for estimating the response properties of spiking visual system neurons. The technique is simple, robust, efficient and well suited to simultaneous recordings from multiple neurons. It provides a complete and easily interpretable model of light responses even for neurons that display a common form of response nonlinearity that precludes classical linear systems analysis. A theoretical justification of the technique is presented that relies only on elementary linear algebra and statistics. Implementation is described with examples. The technique and the underlying model of neural responses are validated using recordings from retinal ganglion cells, and in principle are applicable to other neurons. Advantages and disadvantages of the technique relative to classical approaches are discussed.
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              The mechanism of directionally selective units in rabbit's retina.


                Author and article information

                J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol
                J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sens. Neural. Behav. Physiol
                Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                5 November 2019
                5 November 2019
                : 206
                : 2
                : 109-124
                GRID grid.429510.b, ISNI 0000 0004 0491 8548, Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, ; Martinsried, Germany
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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                © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020


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