How Fruit Flies Control the Brain’s “Steering Wheel”

When we walk down the street, we have an internal sense of which way we are heading, from looking at street signals and physical landmarks, and also a sense of where we’d like to go. But how does the brain coordinate between these directions, doing the mental math that tells us which way to turn? Now, new research describes such a neural process in fruit flies, providing insight into how an animal’s brain steers it in the right direction. The study, published February 7, 2024 in Nature, shows how neurons that signal the direction in which a fly is currently oriented work together with neurons that signal the direction in which way the fly wishes to be oriented—its goal direction—to form a circuit that guides the animal. The open-access article is titled “Converting an Allocentric Goal into an Egocentric Steering Signal.”

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