1. Neuroscience
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A common directional tuning mechanism of Drosophila motion-sensing neurons in the ON and in the OFF pathway

  1. Juergen Haag  Is a corresponding author
  2. Abhishek Mishra
  3. Alexander Borst
  1. Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Germany
  2. Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e29044 doi: 10.7554/eLife.29044


In the fruit fly optic lobe, T4 and T5 cells represent the first direction-selective neurons, with T4 cells responding selectively to moving brightness increments (ON) and T5 cells to brightness decrements (OFF). Both T4 and T5 cells comprise four subtypes with directional tuning to one of the four cardinal directions. We had previously found that upward-sensitive T4 cells implement both preferred direction enhancement and null direction suppression (Haag et al, 2016). Here, we asked whether this mechanism generalizes to OFF-selective T5 cells and to all four subtypes of both cell classes. We found that all four subtypes of both T4 and T5 cells implement both mechanisms, i.e. preferred direction enhancement and null direction inhibition, on opposing sides of their receptive fields. This gives rise to the high degree of direction selectivity observed in both T4 and T5 cells within each subpopulation.

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Author details

  1. Juergen Haag

    Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6535-0103
  2. Abhishek Mishra

    Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1933-1251
  3. Alexander Borst

    Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany
    Competing interests
    Alexander Borst, Reviewing editor, eLife.



  • Juergen Haag
  • Abhishek Mishra
  • Alexander Borst

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 870)

  • Juergen Haag
  • Abhishek Mishra
  • Alexander Borst

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Fred Rieke, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 30, 2017
  2. Accepted: August 21, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 22, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 4, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Haag et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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