Building a heading signal from anatomically defined neuron types in the Drosophila central complex

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Oct;52:156-164. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.06.010. Epub 2018 Jul 18.


A network of a few hundred neurons in the Drosophila central complex carries an estimate of the fly's heading in the world, akin to the mammalian head-direction system. Here we describe how anatomically defined neuronal classes in this network are poised to implement specific sub-processes for building and updating this population-level heading signal. The computations we describe in the fly central complex strongly resemble those posited to exist in the mammalian brain, in computational models for building head-direction signals. By linking circuit anatomy to navigational physiology, the Drosophila central complex should provide a detailed example of how a heading signal is built.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Head / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*