Closing the loop between neurobiology and flight behavior in Drosophila
Fruit flies alter flight direction by generating rapid stereotyped turns called saccades. Using a combination of tethered and free-flight methods, both the aerodynamic mechanisms and the sensory triggers for saccades have been investigated. The results indicate that saccades are elicited by visual expansion, and are brought about by remarkably subtle changes in wing motion. Mechanosensory feedback from the fly's 'gyroscope' complements visual cues to terminate saccades, as well as to stabilize forward flight. Olfactory stimuli elicit tonic increases in wingbeat amplitude and frequency but do not alter the time course or magnitude of visual reflexes.
© 2004 Elsevier. Available online 2 November 2004. This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (FD97-23424), Office of Naval Research (N00014-03-1-0604), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (N00014-98-1-0855) and the Packard Foundation. This review is dedicated to the memory of Roland Hengstenberg.