Research NewsNeurobiology

Flying by the Seat of Their Halteres

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Science  10 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5361, pp. 201-202
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5361.201

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The fly responds so rapidly to what it sees that researchers once thought the visual system in its brain must connect directly to its flight muscles. But new results suggest that this neural hot line may run instead through the halteres, vestigial wings that until now were supposed to function only as gyroscopes that help stabilize the insect in flight. The findings, reported on page 289, suggest that halteres both stabilize the flight and guide its twists and turns, which researchers say could lead to a rewriting of how flight control works.