Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics

Research Article

Visual control of orientation behaviour in the fly: Part I. A quantitative analysis

Werner Reichardta1 and Tomaso Poggioa1

a1 Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik D 7400 Tübingen (Germany)


An understanding of sensory information processing in the nervous system will probably require investigations with a variety of ‘model’ systems at different levels of complexity.

Our choice of a suitable model system was constrained by two conflicting requirements: on one hand the information processing properties of the system should be rather complex, on the other hand the system should be amenable to a quantitative analysis. In this sense the fly represents a compromise.

In these two papers we explore how optical information is processed by the fly's visual system. Our objective is to unravel the logical organization of the fly's visual system and its underlying functional and computational principles. Our approach is at a highly integrative level. There are different levels of analysing and ‘understanding’ complex systems, like a brain or a sophisticated computer.