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Published January 2004 | Published
Journal Article Open

Spatial organization of visuomotor reflexes in Drosophila


In most animals, the visual system plays a central role in locomotor guidance. Here, we examined the functional organization of visuomotor reflexes in the fruit fly, Drosophila, using an electronic flight simulator. Flies exhibit powerful avoidance responses to visual expansion centered laterally. The amplitude of these expansion responses is three times larger than those generated by image rotation. Avoidance of a laterally positioned focus of expansion emerges from an inversion of the optomotor response when motion is restricted to the rear visual hemisphere. Furthermore, motion restricted to rear quarter-fields elicits turning responses that are independent of the direction of image motion about the animal's yaw axis. The spatial heterogeneity of visuomotor responses explains a seemingly peculiar behavior in which flies robustly fixate the contracting pole of a translating flow field.

Additional Information

© 2004 The Company of Biologists Limited. Accepted 25 September 2003. This work was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (FD97-23424), Office of Naval Research (FDN00014-99-1-0892) and the Packard Foundation.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023