Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 171–180 | Cite as

Visual pattern discrimination as an element of the fly's orientation behaviour



The visually guided orientation behaviour of stationarily flying Musca domestica (females) has been investigated. Under such conditions, the flight activity does not influence the visual stimulus (“openloop”) and the tendency of a fly to orientate towards some visual object can be recorded as a yaw torque reaction (orientation response).—Orientation responses to flickering stripes reveal two different mechanisms of visual integration, namely a local flicker detecting mechanism and a specific kind of dynamic lateral interactions (Figs. 3, 5). The lateral interactions are mediated by a field of interconnections of receptors which are separated by at least 4 to 6 vertical rows of ommatidia (Figs. 3, 8). While stimulation of not more than 3 vertical rows of ommatidia activates only flicker detection, stimuli of more than 6° width may in addition exert an excitatory or an inhibitory influence as a consequence of the associated nonlinear interactions (Figs. 5, 7). The relevance of these lateral interactions for tracking and chasing behaviour is discussed. It is suggested that the fly's visual pattern discrimination rests essentially on these lateral interactions.


Torque Visual Stimulus Specific Kind Nonlinear Interaction Visual Object 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Pick
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik TübingenFRG

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