Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

It takes nerves for flies to keep a level head

22.07.2008
The nerve connections that keep a fly’s gaze stable during complex aerial manoeuvres, enabling it to respond quickly to obstacles in its flight path, are revealed in new detail in research published today (22 July 2008).

Scientists from Imperial College London have described the connections between two key sets of nerve cells in a fly’s brain that help it process what it sees and fast-track that information to its muscles. This helps it stay agile and respond quickly to its environment while on the move.

The study, published in the journal PLoS Biology, is an important step towards understanding how nervous systems operate, and could help us improve our knowledge of more complex animals. It could also be used to improve technical control systems in autonomous air vehicles - robots that stay stable in the air without crashing and with no need for remote control.

Just as goalkeepers need to keep their heads level when flying through the air for a save, no matter how they tilt their bodies, so flies need to keep their gaze steady during their slightly more complicated areal manoeuvres. This enables them to process visual information about their surrounding environment more efficiently and modify their movements accordingly.

... more about:
»Nerve »movement

The new research shows that the way in which two populations of nerve cells, or neurons, communicate with each other is the key. The lobula plate tangential cells receive input from the eyes. This generates small electrical signals that inform the fly about how it is turning and moving during its aerial stunts.

The signals pass on to a second set of neurons that connect to the neck muscles, and stabilise the fly’s head and thus its line of sight.

Lead researcher, Dr Holger Krapp, from Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering says the pathway from visual signal to head movement is ingeniously designed: it uses information from both eyes, is direct, and does not require heavy computing power. He continues:

“Anyone who has watched one fly chasing another at incredibly high speed, without crashing or bumping into anything, can appreciate the high-end flight performance of these animals.

“They manage even though they see the world in poor definition: their version of the world is like a heavily pixelated photo compared with human vision. However, they do have one major advantage. They can update and process visual information more than ten times faster than humans, which is vital for an insect that relies on fast sensory feedback to maintain its agility.”

Dr Krapp adds: “Keeping the head level and gaze steady is a fundamental task for all animals that rely on vision to help control their movements. Understanding the underlying principles in simple model systems like flies could give us useful leads on how more complex creatures achieve similar tasks.”

Colin Smith | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk
http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=index-html&issn=1545-7885

Further reports about: Nerve movement

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>