Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 143, Issue 4, pp 511–526 | Cite as

The horizontal cells in the lobula plate of the blowfly,Phaenicia sericata

  • Hendrik Eckert



Combining intracellular recording and dye injection techniques, the horizontal cells of the blowfly,Phaenicia (= Lucilia) sericata, were studied.


In each lobula plate, one finds a set of three cells, termed NH-, EH- and SH-cell. EH occurs in two distinct anatomical forms, EH1 and EH2, differing in their respective branching patterns of the axon at the frontal surface of the lobula plate. Each cell's dendrite covers approximately a third of the surface of the lobula plate corresponding to a third of the visual field of the ipsilateral eye. These dendrites possess postsynaptic spines. The axons of all three cells pass along the frontal surface of the lobula plate within the inner chiasma; they cross the optic peduncle and enter the central protocerebrum where they form a second arborization, the axonal arborization consisting of dorsally extending collaterals. The axons terminate in the posterior slope of the ventrolateral protocerebrum. The axonal arborization as well as the axonal terminals possess telodendritic knobs. Ultrastructural investigations show that the lobula plate-dendrite possesses exclusively postsynaptic chemical synapses, and that the axonal arborisation and the axonal terminals possess pre- as well as postsynaptic chemical synapses. The very endings of the axons are exclusively presynaptic.


The horizontal cells respond to stimulation within the ipsi- and/or contralateral receptive field. Regressive motion within the contralateral receptive field induces EPSPs and action potentials of small amplitude (10–35 mV); progressive motion is ineffective. Within the ipsilateral receptive field, regressive motion hyperpolarizes the cell membrane whereas progressive motion induces a strong depolarizing membrane potential-shift with superimposed fast potential changes of ‘noisy’ appearance. Thus, the horizontal cells respond to rotational movement of the surround around the high axis of the animal: clockwise rotation excites the horizontal cells of the right lobula plate and counterclockwise motion those of the left lobula plate, respectively. However, this compound potential behaviour can only be recorded in the lobula plate-axon and main dendrites, whereas the horizontal cells respond tocontralateral regressive motion with action potentialsonly in their axonal terminals in the posterior slope; no graded potentials can be recorded in this cell region if stimulation occurs within theipsilateral receptive field. It is discussed that the previously described graded potentials for the axonal terminals (Hausen 1976b) can only be measured if the cells are already damaged. The probable cause of this change in response behaviour from action potentials to a compound potential behaviour (consisting of graded potentials and action potentials though of small amplitude) is discussed.


Receptive Field Frontal Surface Axonal Terminal Horizontal Cell Progressive Motion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hendrik Eckert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal PhysiologyRuhr-University BochumBochum 1Federal Republic of Germany

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