Spatio-temporal dynamics of impulse responses to figure motion in optic flow neurons

PLoS One. 2015 May 8;10(5):e0126265. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126265. eCollection 2015.


White noise techniques have been used widely to investigate sensory systems in both vertebrates and invertebrates. White noise stimuli are powerful in their ability to rapidly generate data that help the experimenter decipher the spatio-temporal dynamics of neural and behavioral responses. One type of white noise stimuli, maximal length shift register sequences (m-sequences), have recently become particularly popular for extracting response kernels in insect motion vision. We here use such m-sequences to extract the impulse responses to figure motion in hoverfly lobula plate tangential cells (LPTCs). Figure motion is behaviorally important and many visually guided animals orient towards salient features in the surround. We show that LPTCs respond robustly to figure motion in the receptive field. The impulse response is scaled down in amplitude when the figure size is reduced, but its time course remains unaltered. However, a low contrast stimulus generates a slower response with a significantly longer time-to-peak and half-width. Impulse responses in females have a slower time-to-peak than males, but are otherwise similar. Finally we show that the shapes of the impulse response to a figure and a widefield stimulus are very similar, suggesting that the figure response could be coded by the same input as the widefield response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optic Flow / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology

Grant support

This work was funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR, 2008-2933, 2012-4740) and US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL, FA9550-11-1-0349).