Drosophila Spatiotemporally Integrates Visual Signals to Control Saccades

Jean Michel Mongeau, Mark A. Frye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Like many visually active animals, including humans, flies generate both smooth and rapid saccadic movements to stabilize their gaze. How rapid body saccades and smooth movement interact for simultaneous object pursuit and gaze stabilization is not understood. We directly observed these interactions in magnetically tethered Drosophila free to rotate about the yaw axis. A moving bar elicited sustained bouts of saccades following the bar, with surprisingly little smooth movement. By contrast, a moving panorama elicited robust smooth movement interspersed with occasional optomotor saccades. The amplitude, angular velocity, and torque transients of bar-fixation saccades were finely tuned to the speed of bar motion and were triggered by a threshold in the temporal integral of the bar error angle rather than its absolute retinal position error. Optomotor saccades were tuned to the dynamics of panoramic image motion and were triggered by a threshold in the integral of velocity over time. A hybrid control model based on integrated motion cues simulates saccade trigger and dynamics. We propose a novel algorithm for tuning fixation saccades in flies. Visual animals generate smooth and saccadic eye movements, which must interact to both stabilize gaze and track salient features. Mongeau and Frye examine magnetically tethered fruit flies and show that they temporally integrate visual cues to trigger and tune object-fixation saccades independently from smooth movement for ground stabilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2901-2914.e2
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 9 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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