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Continuous lateral oscillations as a core mechanism for taxis in Drosophila larvae

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https://elifesciences.org/content/5/e15504/
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15504
Number of pages58
JournaleLIFE
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2016

Abstract

Taxis behaviour in Drosophila larva is thought to consist of distinct control mechanisms triggering specific actions. Here we support a simpler hypothesis: that taxis results from direct sensory modulation of continuous lateral oscillations of the anterior body, sparing the need for 'action selection'. Our analysis of larvae motion reveals a rhythmic, continuous lateral oscillation of the anterior body, encompassing all head-sweeps, small or large, without breaking the oscillatory rhythm. Further, we show that an agent-model that embeds this hypothesis reproduces a surprising number of taxis signatures observed in larvae. Also, by coupling the sensory input to a neural oscillator in continuous time, we show that the mechanism is robust and biologically plausible. The mechanism provides a simple architecture for combining information across modalities, and explaining how learnt associations modulate taxis. We discuss the results in the light of larval neural circuitry and make testable predictions.

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