This Article Is Based On The Research Paper 'Walking strides direct rapid and flexible recruitment of visual circuits for course control in Drosophila'. All Credit For This Research Goes To The Researchers 👏👏👏 Please Don't Forget To Join Our ML Subreddit
The central nervous system in humans makes it capable of adapting to new environments and scenarios. These reactions result from past experiences, physiological needs and sometimes bodily instinct.
Signals related to behavioral goals and current body state are called motor context in the human body. Vision and action are very important in this context. Their addiction may seem unrelated, but they are crucial in directing the movement in terms of driving context. Choose a location on the wall and try placing your finger on it with your eyes closed to see how closely the two are related.
The strange behavior of visual neurons caught the attention of neuroscientists following a recent event involving fruit flies. A fruit fly was recently seen walking on a floating 3D treadmill made of a small ball of polystyrene. Even though the room is completely dark, an electrode recording visual neurons in the fly’s brain transmits a strange stream of neural activity that rises and falls like a sine wave.
Researchers from the Champalimaud Foundation in Portugal have taken this exceptional discovery further, leading to a groundbreaking discovery. The team says their motivation came from the fact that due to the darkness of the environment, there was no visual cue available to activate the neurons in this way when recording the visual neurons. This led them to believe that the strange activity was either an artifact, which was implausible, or came from an unseen source.
After years of research, the researchers reveal their findings in their paper “Neuron: A bidirectional neural network linking the legs and the visual system to shape walking.” One of the most surprising features of this discovery is that it allows you to walk simultaneously on two different timelines. It works quickly to monitor and correct each step while supporting the animal’s behavioral goal.
The researchers focused on a specific type of visual neuron related to the motor parts of the brain. They aimed to identify what signals these neurons receive and whether or not they have a role in movement. The researchers used a sophisticated technology known as whole-cell patch recording to answer these questions, allowing them to get into the “mood” of neurons, which can be positive or negative.
Electric currents change the total charge of the receiving neuron when the neurons communicate with each other. When a neuron’s net charge is higher, it is more likely to fire and send signals to other neurons. The neuron is more inhibited if the charge is negative.
Researchers studied neuron charging and found that it was perfectly synchronized with the animal’s footsteps to fine-tune each action. The neuron was more positive when the foot was in the air, the researchers said, and was ready to send adjustment instructions to the motor region if needed. The charge was more negative when the foot was on the ground, making changes impossible, thus blocking the neuron.
When the researchers dug deeper into their findings, they found that neuron load also changed over time. Especially when the fly was walking fast, the charge became more and more positive. According to the researchers, this variety helps the animal maintain its behavioral goal. They went on to say that the longer the fly has been walking, the more likely it is to need help following its plan. As a result, neurons become more “alert” and ready to be recruited for movement control.
Researchers have conducted numerous studies to better understand its direct involvement in walking. It not only reveals a new visuo-motor circuit, but also offers new insight into the neurological mechanics of movement.
Exploration, navigation, and spatial perception are all behaviors for which many animals, including humans, rely on speed-related representations. The current model of behavior formation is very “top down,” with the brain controlling the body. In contrast, the paper’s findings show how signals from the body play a role in regulating movement. Although they found similar pathways in the fly animal model, they believe they exist in other creatures.