Pérez-Schuster, V., Kulkarni, A., Nouvian, M., Romano, S.A., Lygdas, K., Jouary, A., Dipoppa, M., Pietri, T., Haudrechy, M., Candat, V., Boulanger-Weill, J., Hakim, V., Sumbre, G. (2016) Sustained Rhythmic Brain Activity Underlies Visual Motion Perception in Zebrafish. Cell Reports. 17:1098-1112.
Following moving visual stimuli (conditioning stimuli, CS), many organisms perceive, in the absence of physical stimuli, illusory motion in the opposite direction. This phenomenon is known as the motion aftereffect (MAE). Here, we use MAE as a tool to study the neuronal basis of visual motion perception in zebrafish larvae. Using zebrafish eye movements as an indicator of visual motion perception, we find that larvae perceive MAE. Blocking eye movements using optogenetics during CS presentation did not affect MAE, but tectal ablation significantly weakened it. Using two-photon calcium imaging of behaving GCaMP3 larvae, we find post-stimulation sustained rhythmic activity among direction-selective tectal neurons associated with the perception of MAE. In addition, tectal neurons tuned to the CS direction habituated, but neurons in the retina did not. Finally, a model based on competition between direction-selective neurons reproduced MAE, suggesting a neuronal circuit capable of generating perception of visual motion.