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Visual Input to the Efferent Control System of a Fly's "Gyroscope"

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Science  10 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5361, pp. 289-292
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5361.289

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Abstract

Dipterous insects (the true flies) have a sophisticated pair of equilibrium organs called halteres that evolved from hind wings. The halteres are sensitive to Coriolis forces that result from angular rotations of the body and mediate corrective reflexes during flight. Like the aerodynamically functional fore wings, the halteres beat during flight and are equipped with their own set of control muscles. It is shown that motoneurons innervating muscles of the haltere receive strong excitatory input from directionally sensitive visual interneurons. Visually guided flight maneuvers of flies may be mediated in part by efferent modulation of hard-wired equilibrium reflexes.

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