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Cells with double vision
Date:2/17/2009

r sub-divided into several individual cell groups, each of which is responsible for the processing of certain patterns of movement. A group of ten cells, known as the VS-cells, respond to rotational movements of the fly, for example. Each of these ten cells receives its visual information from only a narrow vertical strip of the fly's eye - the cell's "receptive field". Since the VS-cells are arranged parallel to each other, the fly's field of vision is completely covered by the vertical strips of the ten cells on each side of the fly's brain (the figure shows three of the ten VS-cells).

Complexity by means of connectivity

"However, the most fascinating aspect of these VS-cells is that the closer we examined the network, the more complex it appeared", group leader Alexander Borst reports. He and his group at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology are devoted to investigating the motion vision of flies. Only recently, Borst's co-worker Jrgen Haag showed that VS-cells are connected on two different levels. It was well known that in their input regions, the cells collect incoming signals from nerve cells which represent local motion information coming from the eye. Yet, it came as a surprise that the cells had a second source of information. The scientists found electrical connections between neighbouring VS-cells in the cells' output regions. Computer simulations of this network led to the following assumption: Information received from a VS-cell's "own" receptive field is first compared with the information received by its neighbouring cells. Only then is the information relayed to cells further downstream in the network for the purpose of flight control.

Getting to the bottom of it

The immediate prediction from this work was somewhat of a surprise. Could a single cell have two different receptive fields, depending on which part of the cell is taken into consideration? In Martinsried, the neurobiologist Yishai Elyad
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Contact: Dr. Stefanie Merker
merker@neuro.mpg.de
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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