Neural coding of naturalistic motion stimuli

Network. 2001 Aug;12(3):317-29.


We study a wide-field motion-sensitive neuron in the visual system of the blowfly Calliphora vicina. By rotating the fly on a stepper motor outside in a wooded area, and along an angular motion trajectory representative of natural flight, we stimulate the fly's visual system with input that approaches the natural situation. The neural response is analysed in the framework of information theory, using methods that are free from assumptions. We demonstrate that information about the motion trajectory increases as the light level increases over a natural range. This indicates that the fly's brain utilizes the increase in photon flux to extract more information from the photoreceptor array, suggesting that imprecision in neural signals is dominated by photon shot noise in the physical input, rather than by noise generated within the nervous system itself.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Entropy
  • Flight, Animal / physiology
  • Information Theory
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Fields / physiology