Alexander Borst

Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology

The Holy Grail of Fly Motion Vision

Monday 24 November 2014

Location: Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Abstract: Because motion information is important for many aspects of animal life, directionally selective neurons are found in virtually all visual systems. In flies, a mathematical model developed more than 50 years ago, the so-called ‘Reichardt detector’, describes how directional information is extracted from photoreceptor signals. In this model, the luminance values of adjacent photoreceptors are multiplied after differential temporal filtering. This is done twice in a mirror-symmetrical way, and the output values of the multipliers are finally subtracted from each other. Discovering the neural implementation of this algorithmically defined computation has been the ‘Holy Grail’ of fly motion vision. We recently identified the input and output neurons of parallel circuits processing moving brightness increments (ON pathway) and decrements (OFF pathway). Current work seeks to complete our understanding of Drosophila’s motion detection circuitry.

Biography: Alexander Borst studied Biology at the University of Würzburg and did postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. He led independent research groups at the Friedrich-Miescher Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, before assuming his current post in 2001.