Calcium accumulation in visual interneurons of the fly: stimulus dependence and relationship to membrane potential

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jun;73(6):2540-52. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.73.6.2540.


1. The large motion-sensitive tangential neurons in the fly third visual neuropil spatially pool the postsynaptic signals of many local elements. The changes in membrane potential and calcium concentration induced in these cells by visual motion are analyzed in vivo by simultaneous optical and intracellular voltage recording techniques. 2. Visual motion in the preferred direction leads to depolarization of the cell and to calcium accumulation mainly in the axon terminal, the soma, and the dendritic tree. During motion in the null direction, the cell hyperpolarizes and virtually no changes in calcium concentration can be observed. 3. Dendritic calcium accumulation is first restricted to those dendritic branches that are close to the sites of direct synaptic input. In other parts of the dendrite the calcium concentration increases more slowly and usually reaches only lower levels. 4. Calcium starts accumulating at the onset of motion. However, the calcium concentration reaches its final steady-state level much later than the corresponding membrane potential changes. Even if these are completely transient at high temporal frequencies of pattern motion, the calcium signal stays high until the stimulus pattern stops moving. 5. The amplitude of the calcium signal depends on the temporal frequency of pattern motion in a similar way as do the corresponding membrane potential changes. However, there exist differences that can be attributed to the different time courses of both signals. 6. Depolarization of the dendritic tree by current injection through a microelectrode leads to similar changes in calcium accumulation as does activation by synaptic input, suggesting that calcium enters the cell via voltage-dependent channels. The possible function of calcium channels for dendritic integration of synaptic input is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Motor Activity
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Time Factors


  • Calcium