Mapping the neural dynamics of locomotion across the Drosophila brain

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In this thesis, I develop a method to measure neural activity across the entire brain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster while the animal walks. I create a standard anatomical atlas of the in vivo fly brain, the Functional Drosophila Atlas (FDA), and build a pipeline to accurately register volumetric imaging data from individual animal brains into this common space with micron precision (Chapter 2). I then analyze this dataset to reveal the brain-wide spatiotemporal dynamics associated with locomotion and describe several key findings (Chapter 3). We find that locomotor-related information is indeed widespread across the brain, extending well beyond classical motor-associated regions. We observe remarkable topographic structure within many individual brain regions, with neurons preferring specific behavioral features grouped together. We find that as the animal modulates its forward or rotational velocity, the neural activity evolves across the brain in distinct patterns. Activity in some brain regions precedes behavior by 300 milliseconds, is contemporaneous in others, and lags behind behavior by many seconds in others. As neural activity sweeps across the brain, it sequentially engages clusters of neurons with different behavioral specificities, suggesting a spatiotemporal framework for the emergence of complex walking maneuvers. By registering this data into FDA we gain access to connectomics resources, which we apply to identify candidate neurons involved in modulating the forward or rotational velocity of the animal. Finally, we address the question of volition, or how the brain might plan future behavior in the absence of sensory cues (Chapter 4). We highlight that when performing a turn, the brain experiences a widespread asymmetry in neural activity across the two hemispheres. Strikingly, this asymmetry emerges more than 10 seconds before the turn in a small sub-compartment of a motor-associated region, the Inferior Posterior Slope (IPS). The difference in neural activity in this region across the two hemispheres can predict the direction of future turns on a trial-by-trial basis, and ultimately provides an opportunity for dissecting a neural circuit involved in volitional action.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2023; ©2023
Publication date 2023; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Brezovec, Luke Edward
Degree supervisor Clandinin, Thomas R. (Thomas Robert), 1970-
Thesis advisor Clandinin, Thomas R. (Thomas Robert), 1970-
Thesis advisor Baccus, Stephen A
Thesis advisor Druckmann, Shaul
Thesis advisor Giocomo, Lisa
Thesis advisor Shah, Nirao
Degree committee member Baccus, Stephen A
Degree committee member Druckmann, Shaul
Degree committee member Giocomo, Lisa
Degree committee member Shah, Nirao
Associated with Stanford University, School of Medicine
Associated with Stanford University, Neurosciences Program


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Luke Edward Brezovec.
Note Submitted to the Neurosciences Program.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

Access conditions

© 2023 by Luke Edward Brezovec
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-ND).

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