PerspectiveNeuroscience

The Michael Jackson Fly

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Science  04 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6179, pp. 48-49
DOI: 10.1126/science.1252431

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Summary

Although most of us are more comfortable walking forward, in part because we can see where we are going, people also have the capacity to walk, and even run, in a backward direction. This skill comes in handy when we get stuck in tight dead-end spaces and is even a trendy exercise routine for some (1). Perhaps most famously, Michael Jackson immortalized the move in his iconic moonwalker dance. Not surprisingly, the capacity for backward locomotion is not limited to humans and now, thanks to elegant experiments carried out in the fruit fly by Bidaye et al. and reported on page 97 of this issue (2), we have some understanding of how animals choose between forward and backward locomotion.