Adaptation and the temporal delay filter of fly motion detectors

Vision Res. 1999 Aug;39(16):2603-13. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00297-1.


Recent accounts attribute motion adaptation to a shortening of the delay filter in elementary motion detectors (EMDs). Using computer modelling and recordings from HS neurons in the drone-fly Eristalis tenax, we present evidence that challenges this theory. (i) Previous evidence for a change in the delay filter comes from 'image step' (or 'velocity impulse') experiments. We note a large discrepancy between the temporal frequency tuning predicted from these experiments and the observed tuning of motion sensitive cells. (ii) The results of image step experiments are highly sensitive to the experimental method used. (iii) An apparent motion stimulus reveals a much shorter EMD delay than suggested by previous 'image step' experiments. This short delay agrees with the observed temporal frequency sensitivity of the unadapted cell. (iv) A key prediction of a shortening delay filter is that the temporal frequency optimum of the cell should show a large shift to higher temporal frequencies after motion adaptation. We show little change in the temporal or spatial frequency (and hence velocity) optima following adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Diptera / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Time Factors