Computations underlying Drosophila photo- taxis, odor-taxis, and multi-sensory integration

Ruben Gepner, Mirna Mihovilovic Skanata, Natalie M. Bernat, Margarita Kaplow, Marc Gershow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


To better understand how organisms make decisions on the basis of temporally varying multi-sensory input, we identified computations made by Drosophila larvae responding to visual and optogenetically induced fictive olfactory stimuli. We modeled the larva’s navigational decision to initiate turns as the output of a Linear-Nonlinear-Poisson cascade. We used reverse-correlation to fit parameters to this model; the parameterized model predicted larvae’s responses to novel stimulus patterns. For multi modal inputs, we found that larvae linearly combine olfactory and visual signals upstream of the decision to turn. We verified this prediction by measuring larvae’s responses to coordinated changes in odor and light. We studied other navigational decisions and found that larvae integrated odor and light according to the same rule in all cases. These results suggest that photo-taxis and odor-taxis are mediated by a shared computational pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere06229
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 6 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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