Saccadic head and thorax movements in freely walking blowflies

G. Blaj, J.H. van Hateren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Visual information processing is adapted to the statistics of natural visual stimuli, and these statistics depend to a large extent on the movements of an animal itself. To investigate such movements in freely walking blowflies, we measured the orientation and position of their head and thorax, with high spatial and temporal accuracy. Experiments were performed on Calliphora vicina, Lucilia cuprina and L. caesar. We found that thorax and head orientation of walking flies is typically different from the direction of walking, with differences of 45° common. During walking, the head and the thorax turn abruptly, with a frequency of 5–10 Hz and angular velocities in the order of 1,000°/s. These saccades are stereotyped: head and thorax start simultaneously, with the head turning faster, and finishing its turn before the thorax. The changes in position during walking are saccade-like as well, occurring synchronously, but on average slightly after the orientation saccades. Between orientation saccades the angular velocities are low and the head is held more stable than the thorax. We argue that the strategy of turning by saccades improves the performance of the visual system of blowflies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of comparative physiology a-Neuroethology sensory neural and behavioral physiology
Volume190
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2004

Keywords

  • Calliphora vicina
  • Lucilia
  • optic flow
  • saccade
  • search coil
  • FLY DROSOPHILA-MELANOGASTER
  • OPTIC FLOW
  • EYE-MOVEMENTS
  • FLIGHT
  • KINEMATICS
  • CALLIPHORA
  • MOTION
  • IMAGE
  • ORIENTATION
  • BEHAVIOR

Cite this