Vision in Flies: Measuring the Attention SpanReport as inadecuate

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A visual stimulus at a particular location of the visual field may elicit a behavior while at the same time equally salient stimuli in other parts do not. This property of visual systems is known as selective visual attention SVA. The animal is said to have a focus of attention FoA which it has shifted to a particular location. Visual attention normally involves an attention span at the location to which the FoA has been shifted. Here the attention span is measured in Drosophila. The fly is tethered and hence has its eyes fixed in space. It can shift its FoA internally. This shift is revealed using two simultaneous test stimuli with characteristic responses at their particular locations. In tethered flight a wild type fly keeps its FoA at a certain location for up to 4s. Flies with a mutation in the radish gene, that has been suggested to be involved in attention-like mechanisms, display a reduced attention span of only 1s.

Author: Sebastian Koenig, Reinhard Wolf, Martin Heisenberg



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