Small‐field neurons associated with oculomotor and optomotor control in muscoid flies: Functional organization

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In fleshflies, Sarcophaga bullata, intracellular recording and Lucifer yellow dye‐filling have revealed small‐field elements of sexually isomorphic retinotopic arrays in the lobula and lobula plate, the axons of which project to premotor channels in the deutocerebrum that supply head‐turning and flight‐steering motor neurons. The dendrites of the small‐field elements visit very restricted oval areas of the retinotopic mosaic, comprising fields that are typically 6–8 input columns wide and 12–20 high. Their physiologically determined receptive fields are also small, typically 20° or less in diameter. The neurons are hyperpolarized in stationary illumination and are transiently depolarized by light OFF and to a lesser degree by light ON. Motion of a striped grating elicits a periodic excitation at the fundamental or second harmonic of the stimulus temporal contrast frequency. The arrangement of these elements in retinotopic arrays with their small receptive fields and flicker‐sensitive dynamic properties make these neurons well suited for the position‐dependent, direction‐insensitive detection of small objects in the fly's visual field, which, is known to drive fixation and tracking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-86
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1992


  • electrophysiology
  • identified neurons
  • insect vision
  • object detection
  • receptive fields

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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