Functional Neuroanatomy of the Blowfly’s Visual System

  • N. J. Strausfeld
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 74)


Outputs from the optic lobes arise mainly in the lobula (Lo) and lobula plate (LP), two neuropils each with distinct architectures. Columnar neurons, comprising the relatively large and multilayered Lo, receive the majority of axons originating in the peripheral medulla (Me). In contrast, the LP is a thin tectum of neuropil characterized by large field tangential cells thought to be involved in visual stabilization of flight. In common with other areas, relays from the retina into the LP are retinotopically organized. Neuroanatomical studies show that pathways destined for the Lo and LP segregate peripherally at the level of synapses between receptors and interneurons. The final input to the LP is carried by four identical neurons (the T4-pair and T5-pair), each quartet representing a point in the visual field which overlaps six surrounding points. The terminals of the quartet define two functional layers in the LP neuropil (horizontality and verticality). T-cell endings are presynaptic to horizontal (HS) and vertical (VS) motion sensitive neurons. Their synaptology suggests that computation of direction (as opposed to motion) is performed in the lobula plate. HS and VS cells input to separate channels leading out of the brain (sets of descending neurons, the DNHS and DNVS). The DNHS receive additional inputs from the antennae whereas the DNVS receive additional inputs from the ocelli. It is proposed that the DNVS set carries information about pitch, yaw and roll whereas the DNHS set carries information about angular acceleration and apparent speed of the visual surround.


Horizontal Cell Optic Lobe Visual Unit Vertical Grating Vertical Cell 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Strausfeld
    • 1
  1. 1.European Molecular Biology LaboratoryHeidelbergWest Germany

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