Directionally selective motion detection in the sustaining fibers of the crayfish optic nerve: linear and nonlinear mechanisms

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jul;74(1):142-52. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.74.1.142.


1. Directional selectivity of crayfish sustaining fibers was examined with drifting sine wave gratings and with intracellular and extracellular recordings. Directionality was measured for variations in stimulus contrast, spatial frequency, and temporal frequency. 2. Sustaining fibers exhibit directional selectivity in the magnitude of the compound postsynaptic potential (PSP), the impulse frequency modulation response, and the mean firing rate. The mean synaptic potential is insensitive to direction. The directionality of the mean impulse rate appears to arise by rectification in the voltage-to-impulse transduction. 3. The preferred directions of three identified sustaining fibers are similar to those of head-down optomotor neurons to which these sustaining fibers project. 4. The modulatory response, elicited by gratings drifting in the preferred direction, increased linearly with contrast until saturation (typically at a contrast of 0.5), where maximum directional selectivity obtains. 5. The magnitude of the directional response is a band-pass function of spatial and temporal frequency and exhibits reversal of directionality (i.e., aliasing) at high spatial and temporal frequencies. The results imply a spatial sampling interval of 4.5 degrees and a temperature-dependent inhibitory delay of 40-90 ms. The PSP modulation response shares several features with that of neighboring tangential (Tan1) neurons. 6. A qualitative model is proposed for the transformation of a phase-sensitive, linear directional response to a phase-insensitive and nonlinear time-averaged response, based on the functional connections from Tan1 neurons to sustaining fibers to optomotor neurons. The model includes a threshold rectification, a synaptic band-pass filter, and differences in temporal phase among converging modulatory signals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Optic Nerve / cytology
  • Optic Nerve / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Synaptic Membranes / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Pathways / physiology