Optic flow representation in the optic lobes of Diptera: Modeling the role of T5 directional tuning properties

John K. Douglass, N. J. Strausfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An evolutionarily conserved system of small retinotopic neurons in dipteran insects, called bushy T-cells, provides information about directional motion to large collator neurons in the lobula plate. Physiological and anatomical features of these cells provide the basis for a model that is used to investigate requirements for generating optic flow selectivity in collators while allowing for evolutionary variations. This account focuses on the role of physiological tuning properties of T5 neurons. Various flow fields are defined as inputs to retinotopic arrays of T5 cells, the responses of which are mapped onto collators using innervation matrices that promote selectivity for flow type and position. Properties known or inferred from physiological and anatomical studies of neurons contributing to motion detection are incorporated into the model: broad tuning to local motion direction and the representation of each visual sampling unit by a quartet of small-field T5-like neurons with orthogonal preferred directions. The model predicts hitherto untested response properties of optic flow selective collators, and predicts that selectivity for a given flow field can be highly sensitive to perturbations in physiological properties of the motion detectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-797
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - A Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


  • Bushy T cells
  • Computational maps
  • Distributed representations
  • Lobula plate
  • Optic flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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