Dendritic Integration of Motion Information in Visual Interneurons of the Blowfly

Neurosci Lett. 1992 Jun 22;140(2):173-6. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(92)90095-o.


Dendritic integration plays a key role in the way information is processed by nerve cells. The large motion-sensitive interneurons of the fly appear to be most appropriate for an investigation of this process. These cells are known to receive input from numerous local motion-sensitive elements and to control visually-guided optomotor responses (e.g., Trends Neurosci., 11 (1988) 351-358; Stavenga and Hardie, Facets of Vision, Springer, 1989). The retinotopic input organization of these cells allows for in vivo stimulation of selected parts of their dendritic tree with their natural excitatory and inhibitory synaptic input signals. By displaying motion in either the cells' preferred or null direction in different regions of the receptive field we found: (i) Responses to combinations of excitatory and inhibitory motion stimuli can be described as the sum of the two response components. (ii) Responses to combination of excitatory stimuli show saturation effects. The deviation from linear superposition depends on the distance and relative position of the activated synaptic sites on the dendrite and makes the responses almost insensitive to the number of activated input channels. (iii) The saturation level depends on different stimulus parameters, e.g. the velocity of the moving pattern. The cell still encodes velocity under conditions of spatial saturation. The results can be understood on the basis of passive dendritic integration of the signals of retinotopically organized local motion-detecting elements with opposite polarity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Diptera
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Motion
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*