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A connectome of the Drosophila central complex reveals network motifs suitable for flexible navigation and context-dependent action selection

By Brad K. Hulse, Hannah Haberkern, Romain Franconville, Daniel B. Turner-Evans, Shin-ya Takemura, Tanya Wolff, Marcella Noorman, Marisa Dreher, Chuntao Dan, Ruchi Parekh, Ann M. Hermundstad, Gerald M. Rubin, Vivek Jayaraman

Posted 09 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.08.413955

Flexible behaviors over long timescales are thought to engage recurrent neural networks in deep brain regions, which are experimentally challenging to study. In insects, recurrent circuit dynamics in a brain region called the central complex (CX) enable directed locomotion, sleep, and context- and experience-dependent spatial navigation. We describe the first complete electron-microscopy-based connectome of the Drosophila CX, including all its neurons and circuits at synaptic resolution. We identified new CX neuron types, novel sensory and motor pathways, and network motifs that likely enable the CX to extract the fly's head-direction, maintain it with attractor dynamics, and combine it with other sensorimotor information to perform vector-based navigational computations. We also identified numerous pathways that may facilitate the selection of CX-driven behavioral patterns by context and internal state. The CX connectome provides a comprehensive blueprint necessary for a detailed understanding of network dynamics underlying sleep, flexible navigation, and state-dependent action selection.

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