An emergent mechanism of selective visual attention in Drosophila

Biol Cybern. 2000 Jan;82(1):61-8. doi: 10.1007/s004220050006.


Due to the limited computational capacity of visual systems and the limited capacity to perform several mental operations at once, animals only select a small proportion of the stimuli available at any one time. It remains to be clarified how this process is related to the spatio-temporal dynamics of cell assemblies in the brain. By employing the flight simulator, selective visual attention behavior is studied in Drosophila. It has been found that for the visual objects presented, the tethered fruitflies display various attention patterns. Specifically, the learning memory mutants dunce and amnesiac possess attention patterns totally different from that of the wild-type fly. To explain these results from the viewpoint of dynamic cell assemblies, a neural network has been developed in which a possible link between the activity of cell assemblies, encoding of sensory information, and selective attention in Drosophila is proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*