Theses Doctoral

State and stimulus dependence in the Drosophila OFF motion detection pathway reveal how adaptive temporal properties support visual processing

Kohn, Jessica

Sensory systems flexibly adapt their processing properties across a wide range of environmental and behavioral conditions. Such variable processing complicates attempts to extract mechanistic understanding of sensory computations. This is evident in the highly constrained, canonical Drosophila motion detection circuit, where the core computation underlying direction selectivity is still debated despite extensive studies. Here, I use the high temporal resolution method of in vivo whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology to measure the filtering properties of neural inputs to the OFF motion-detecting T5 cell in Drosophila.

I find state and stimulus dependent changes in the shape of these signals, which become more biphasic under specific conditions. Summing these inputs within the framework of a connectomic-constrained model of the circuit demonstrates that these changes in shape are sufficient to explain T5 responses to various motion stimuli. Thus, my stimulus and state dependent measurements reconcile motion computation with the anatomy of the circuit. These findings provide a clear example of how a basic circuit supports flexible sensory computation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Neurobiology and Behavior
Thesis Advisors
Behnia, Rudy
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 17, 2021