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Adaptation Accentuates Responses of Fly Motion-Sensitive Visual Neurons to Sudden Stimulus Changes

Rafael Kurtz, Martin Egelhaaf, Hanno Gerd Meyer and Roland Kern
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 276, No. 1673 (Oct. 22, 2009), pp. 3711-3719
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30244172
Page Count: 9
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Adaptation Accentuates Responses of Fly Motion-Sensitive Visual Neurons to Sudden Stimulus Changes
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Abstract

Adaptation in sensory and neuronal systems usually leads to reduced responses to persistent or frequently presented stimuli. In contrast to simple fatigue, adapted neurons often retain their ability to encode changes in stimulus intensity and to respond when novel stimuli appear. We investigated how the level of adaptation of a fly visual motion-sensitive neuron affects its responses to discontinuities in the stimulus, i.e. sudden brief changes in one of the stimulus parameters (velocity, contrast, grating orientation and spatial frequency). Although the neuron's overall response decreased gradually during ongoing motion stimulation, the response transients elicited by stimulus discontinuities were preserved or even enhanced with adaptation. Moreover, the enhanced sensitivity to velocity changes by adaptation was not restricted to a certain velocity range, but was present regardless of whether the neuron was adapted to a baseline velocity below or above its steady-state velocity optimum. Our results suggest that motion adaptation helps motion-sensitive neurons to preserve their sensitivity to novel stimuli even in the presence of strong tonic stimulation, for example during self-motion.

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