Anatomical organization of retinotopic motion-sensitive pathways in the optic lobes of flies

John K. Douglass, Nicholas J. Strausfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Anatomical methods have identified conserved neuronal morphologies and synaptic relationships among small-field retinotopic neurons in insect optic lobes. These conserved cell shapes occur across many species of dipteran insects and are also shared by Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera. The suggestion that such conserved neurons should participate in motion computing circuits finds support from intracellular recordings as well as older studies that used radioactive deoxyglucose labeling to reveal strata with motion-specific activity in an achromatic neuropil called the lobula plate. While intracellular recordings provide detailed information about the motion-sensitive or motion-selective responses of identified neurons, a full understanding of how arrangements of identified neurons compute and integrate information about visual motion will come from a multidisciplinary approach that includes morphological circuit analysis, the use of genetic mutants that exhibit specific deficits in motion processing, and biomimetic models. The latter must be based on the organization and connections of real neurons, yet provide output properties similar to those of more traditional theoretical models based on behavioral observations that date from the 1950s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-150
Number of pages19
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Anatomical organization
  • Directional selectivity
  • Insecta
  • Motion vision
  • Retinotopic neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Anatomical organization of retinotopic motion-sensitive pathways in the optic lobes of flies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this