Quantitative Predictions Orchestrate Visual Signaling in Drosophila

Cell. 2017 Jan 12;168(1-2):280-294.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.12.005. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Vision influences behavior, but ongoing behavior also modulates vision in animals ranging from insects to primates. The function and biophysical mechanisms of most such modulations remain unresolved. Here, we combine behavioral genetics, electrophysiology, and high-speed videography to advance a function for behavioral modulations of visual processing in Drosophila. We argue that a set of motion-sensitive visual neurons regulate gaze-stabilizing head movements. We describe how, during flight turns, Drosophila perform a set of head movements that require silencing their gaze-stability reflexes along the primary rotation axis of the turn. Consistent with this behavioral requirement, we find pervasive motor-related inputs to the visual neurons, which quantitatively silence their predicted visual responses to rotations around the relevant axis while preserving sensitivity around other axes. This work proposes a function for a behavioral modulation of visual processing and illustrates how the brain can remove one sensory signal from a circuit carrying multiple related signals.

Keywords: Drosophila; action initiation; corollary discharge; efference copy; electrophysiology; eye movements; neural circuits; patch-clamp; vision; visuomotor processing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Flight, Animal
  • Head Movements
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Optic Flow
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism
  • Visual Pathways*


  • Kir2.1 channel
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying