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Octopaminergic modulation of contrast gain adaptation in fly visual motion-sensitive neurons


Dr R. Kurtz, as above.


Locomotor activity like walking or flying has recently been shown to alter visual processing in several species. In insects, the neuromodulator octopamine is thought to play an important role in mediating state changes during locomotion of the animal [K.D. Longden & H.G. Krapp (2009) J. Neurophysiol., 102, 3606–3618; (2010) Front. Syst. Neurosci., 4, 153; S.N. Jung et al. (2011)J. Neurosci., 31, 9231–9237]. Here, we used the octopamine agonist chlordimeform (CDM) to mimic effects of behavioural state changes on visual motion processing. We recorded from identified motion-sensitive visual interneurons in the lobula plate of the blowfly Calliphora vicina. In these neurons, which are thought to be involved in visual guidance of locomotion, motion adaptation leads to a prominent attenuation of contrast sensitivity. Following CDM application, the neurons maintained high contrast sensitivity in the adapted state. This modulation of contrast gain adaptation was independent of the activity of the recorded neurons, because it was also present after stimulation with visual motion that did not result in deviations from the neurons’ resting activity. We conclude that CDM affects presynaptic inputs of the recorded neurons. Accordingly, the effect of CDM was weak when adapting and test stimuli were presented in different parts of the receptive field, stimulating separate populations of local presynaptic neurons. In the peripheral visual system adaptation depends on the temporal frequency of the stimulus pattern and is therefore related to pattern velocity. Contrast gain adaptation could therefore be the basis for a shift in the velocity tuning that was previously suggested to contribute to state-dependent processing of visual motion information in the lobula plate interneurons.