Background: An animal's state of arousal is fundamental to all of its behavior. Arousal is generally ascertained by measures of movement complemented by brain activity recordings, which can provide signatures independently of movement activity. Here we examine the relationships among movement, arousal state, and local field potential (LFP) activity in the Drosophila brain.
Results: We have measured the correlation between local field potentials (LFPs) in the brain and overt movements of the fruit fly during different states of arousal, such as spontaneous daytime waking movement, visual arousal, spontaneous night-time movement, and stimulus-induced movement. We found that the correlation strength between brain LFP activity and movement was dependent on behavioral state and, to some extent, on LFP frequency range. Brain activity and movement were uncoupled during the presentation of visual stimuli and also in the course of overnight experiments in the dark. Epochs of low correlation or uncoupling were predictive of increased arousal thresholds even in moving flies and thus define a distinct state of arousal intermediate between sleep and waking in the fruit fly.
Conclusions: These experiments indicate that the relationship between brain LFPs and movement in the fruit fly is dynamic and that the degree of coupling between these two measures of activity defines distinct states of arousal.