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Encoding and control of airflow orientation by a set of Drosophila fan-shaped body neurons


Nagel, Katherine; Currier, Timothy; Matheson, Andrew (2020), Encoding and control of airflow orientation by a set of Drosophila fan-shaped body neurons, Dryad, Dataset,


The insect Central Complex (CX) is thought to underlie goal-oriented navigation but its organization is still not fully understood. We recorded from genetically-identified CX cell types in Drosophila and presented directional visual, olfactory, and airflow cues known to elicit orienting behavior. We found that a group of neurons targeting the ventral fan-shaped body (ventral P-FNs) are robustly tuned for airflow direction. Ventral P-FNs did not generate a “map” of airflow direction. Instead, cells in each hemisphere were tuned to 45° ipsilateral, forming a pair of orthogonal bases. Imaging experiments suggest that ventral P-FNs inherit their airflow tuning from neurons that provide input from the lateral accessory lobe (LAL) to the noduli (NO). Silencing ventral P-FNs prevented flies from selecting appropriate corrective turns following changes in airflow direction. Our results identify a group of central complex neurons that robustly encode airflow direction and are required for proper orientation to this stimulus.


Electrophysiology data from genetically labeled neurons in the central complex of Drosophila

Imaging data from genetically labeled neurons in Drosophila

Behavioral data from Drosophila collected in a closed-loop flight paradigm


National Institutes of Health, Award: R01DC017979

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1555933

McKnight Foundation, Award: Scholar Award

New York University, Award: Dean's Dissertation Fellowship