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Patella, P., Wilson, R.I. (2018). Functional Maps of Mechanosensory Features in the Drosophila Brain.  Curr. Biol. 28(8): 1189--1203.e5.
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Research paper

Johnston's organ is the largest mechanosensory organ in Drosophila. It contributes to hearing, touch, vestibular sensing, proprioception, and wind sensing. In this study, we used in vivo 2-photon calcium imaging and unsupervised image segmentation to map the tuning properties of Johnston's organ neurons (JONs) at the site where their axons enter the brain. We then applied the same methodology to study two key brain regions that process signals from JONs: the antennal mechanosensory and motor center (AMMC) and the wedge, which is downstream of the AMMC. First, we identified a diversity of JON response types that tile frequency space and form a rough tonotopic map. Some JON response types are direction selective; others are specialized to encode amplitude modulations over a specific range (dynamic range fractionation). Next, we discovered that both the AMMC and the wedge contain a tonotopic map, with a significant increase in tonotopy-and a narrowing of frequency tuning-at the level of the wedge. Whereas the AMMC tonotopic map is unilateral, the wedge tonotopic map is bilateral. Finally, we identified a subregion of the AMMC/wedge that responds preferentially to the coherent rotation of the two mechanical organs in the same angular direction, indicative of oriented steady air flow (directional wind). Together, these maps reveal the broad organization of the primary and secondary mechanosensory regions of the brain. They provide a framework for future efforts to identify the specific cell types and mechanisms that underlie the hierarchical re-mapping of mechanosensory information in this system.

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PMC5952606 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Current Biology
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