Oculomotor control in calliphorid flies: GABAergic organization in heterolateral inhibitory pathways

Nicholas J. Strausfeld, Alberta Kong, Jürgen J. Milde, Cole Gilbert, Lila Ramaiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


In calliphorid Diptera, motor neurons mediating visually evoked head movements can be excited or inhibited by visual stimuli, depending on the directionality of the stimulus and whether it is in the ipsi‐ or contralateral visual field. The level at which inhibition occurs is of special interest because binocular activation of homolateral tangential neurons in the lobula plate demonstrates that excitatory interaction must occur between the left and right optic lobes. Recordings and dye fillings demonstrate a variety of motion‐sensitive heterolateral pathways between the lobula plates, or between them and contralateral deutocerebral neuropil, which provides descending pathways to neck motor centers. The profiles of heterolateral tangential cells correspond to neurons stained by an antibody against γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA). Other GABA‐immunoreactive interneurons linking each side of the brain correspond to uniquely identified motion‐sensitive neurons linking the deutocerebra. Additional inhibitory pathways include heterolateral GABAergic descending and ascending neurons, as well as heterolateral GABAergic neurons in the thoracic ganglia. The functional significance of heterolateral GABAergic pathways was tested surgically by making selective microlesions and monitoring the oculoniotor output. The results demonstrate an important new attribute of theinsect visual system. Although lesions can initially abolish an excitatory or inhibitory response, this response is reestablished through alternative pathways that provide inhibitory and excitatory information to the same motor neurons. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-320
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 16 1995


  • identified neurons
  • insects
  • redundancy
  • vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Oculomotor control in calliphorid flies: GABAergic organization in heterolateral inhibitory pathways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this