Spatial distribution of inputs and local receptive field properties of a wide-field, looming sensitive neuron

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Apr;93(4):2240-53. doi: 10.1152/jn.00965.2004. Epub 2004 Nov 17.


The lobula giant movement detector (LGMD) in the locust visual system and its target neuron, the descending contralateral movement detector (DCMD), respond to approaching objects looming on a collision course with the animal. They thus provide a good model to study the cellular and network mechanisms underlying the sensitivity to this specific class of behaviorally relevant stimuli. We determined over an entire locust eye the density distribution of optical axes describing the spatial organization of local inputs to the visual system and compared it with the sensitivity distribution of the LGMD/DCMD to local motion stimuli. The density of optical axes peaks in the equatorial region of the frontal eye. Local motion sensitivity, however, peaks in the equatorial region of the caudolateral visual field and only correlates positively with the dorso-ventral density of optical axes. On local stimulation, both the velocity tuning and the response latency of the LGMD/DCMD depend on stimulus position within the visual field. Spatial and temporal integration experiments in which several local motion stimuli were activated either simultaneously or at fixed delays reveal that the LGMD processes local motion in a strongly sublinear way. Thus the neuron's integration properties seem to depend on several factors including its dendritic morphology, the local characteristics of afferent fiber inputs, and inhibition mediated by different pathways or by voltage-gated conductances. Our study shows that the selectivity of this looming sensitive neuron to approaching objects relies on more complex biophysical mechanisms than previously thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Grasshoppers
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*