A behavioral and modeling study of control algorithms underlying the translational optomotor response in larval zebrafish with implications for neural circuit function

Holman, J.G., Lai, W.W.K., Pichler, P., Saska, D., Lagnado, L., Buckley, C.L.
PLoS Computational Biology   19: e1010924e1010924 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Lagnado, Leon
MeSH Terms
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Larva/physiology
  • Mammals
  • Motor Activity/physiology
  • Swimming*/physiology
  • Zebrafish*/physiology
36821587 Full text @ PLoS Comput. Biol.
The optomotor response (OMR) is central to the locomotory behavior in diverse animal species including insects, fish and mammals. Furthermore, the study of the OMR in larval zebrafish has become a key model system for investigating the neural basis of sensorimotor control. However, a comprehensive understanding of the underlying control algorithms is still outstanding. In fish it is often assumed that the OMR, by reducing average optic flow across the retina, serves to stabilize position with respect to the ground. Yet the degree to which this is achieved, and how it could emerge from the intermittent burst dynamics of larval zebrafish swimming, are unclear. Here, we combine detailed computational modeling with a new approach to free-swimming experiments in which we control the amount of visual feedback produced by a given motor effort by varying the height of the larva above a moving grid stimulus. We develop an account of underlying feedback control mechanisms that describes both the bout initiation process and the control of swim speed during bouts. We observe that the degree to which fish stabilize their position is only partial and height-dependent, raising questions about its function. We find the relative speed profile during bouts follows a fixed temporal pattern independent of absolute bout speed, suggesting that bout speed and bout termination are not separately controlled. We also find that the reverse optic flow, experienced when the fish is swimming faster than the stimulus, plays a minimal role in control of the OMR despite carrying most of the sensory information about self-movement. These results shed new light on the underlying dynamics of the OMR in larval zebrafish and will be crucial for future work aimed at identifying the neural basis of this behavior.
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Human Disease / Model
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