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Meier, M., Serbe, E., Maisak, M.S., Haag, J., Dickson, B.J., Borst, A. (2014). Neural Circuit Components of the Drosophila OFF Motion Vision Pathway.  Curr. Biol. 24(4): 385--392.
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Detecting the direction of visual motion is an essential task of the early visual system. The Reichardt detector has been proven to be a faithful description of the underlying computation in insects. A series of recent studies addressed the neural implementation of the Reichardt detector in Drosophila revealing the overall layout in parallel ON and OFF channels, its input neurons from the lamina (L1→ON, and L2→OFF), and the respective output neurons to the lobula plate (ON→T4, and OFF→T5). While anatomical studies showed that T4 cells receive input from L1 via Mi1 and Tm3 cells, the neurons connecting L2 to T5 cells have not been identified so far. It is, however, known that L2 contacts, among others, two neurons, called Tm2 and L4, which show a pronounced directionality in their wiring.We characterized the visual response properties of both Tm2 and L4 neurons via Ca(2+) imaging. We found that Tm2 and L4 cells respond with an increase in activity to moving OFF edges in a direction-unselective manner. To investigate their participation in motion vision, we blocked their output while recording from downstream tangential cells in the lobula plate. Silencing of Tm2 and L4 completely abolishes the response to moving OFF edges.Our results demonstrate that both cell types are essential components of the Drosophila OFF motion vision pathway, prior to the computation of directionality in the dendrites of T5 cells.

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