Sensorimotor computation underlying phototaxis in zebrafish

Abstract : Animals continuously gather sensory cues to move towards favourable environments. Efficient goal-directed navigation requires sensory perception and motor commands to be intertwined in a feedback loop, yet the neural substrate underlying this sensorimotor task in the vertebrate brain remains elusive. Here, we combine virtual-reality behavioural assays, volumetric calcium imaging, optogenetic stimulation and circuit modelling to reveal the neural mechanisms through which a zebrafish performs phototaxis, i.e. actively orients towards a light source. Key to this process is a self-oscillating hindbrain population (HBO) that acts as a pacemaker for ocular saccades and controls the orientation of successive swim-bouts. It further integrates visual stimuli in a state-dependent manner, i.e. its response to visual inputs varies with the motor context, a mechanism that manifests itself in the phase-locked entrainment of the HBO by periodic stimuli. A rate model is developed that reproduces our observations and demonstrates how this sensorimotor processing eventually biases the animal trajectory towards bright regions.
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Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 8 (1), pp.651. 〈10.1038/s41467-017-00310-3〉
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Sébastien Wolf, Alexis M. Dubreuil, Tommaso Bertoni, Urs Lucas Böhm, Volker Bormuth, et al.. Sensorimotor computation underlying phototaxis in zebrafish. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 8 (1), pp.651. 〈10.1038/s41467-017-00310-3〉. 〈hal-01591895〉

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