Dendritic Integration and Its Role in Computing Image Velocity

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Science  18 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5384, pp. 1848-1850
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1848

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The mechanisms underlying visual motion detection can be studied simultaneously in different cell compartments in vivo by using calcium as a reporter of the spatiotemporal activity distribution in single motion-sensitive cells of the fly. As predicted by the Reichardt model, local dendritic calcium signals are found to indicate the direction and velocity of pattern motion but are corrupted by spatial pattern properties. The latter are canceled out by spatial integration, thus leading to a purely directional selective output signal in the axon. These findings attribute a specific computational task to the dendrites of visual interneurons and imply a functional interpretation of dendritic morphology.

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