Peripheral Visual Circuits Functionally Segregate Motion and Phototaxis Behaviors in the Fly
Optomotor behavior represents a stereotyped locomotor response to visual motion that is found in both vertebrate and invertebrate models. The Fly Stampede assay was developed to study an optomotor response in freely walking populations of Drosophila. Here we share optimized assay designs and software for production of a modified stampede assay that can be used for genetic screens, and improved tracking outputs for understanding behavioral parameters of visual-motion responses and arousal state of individual animals. Arousal state influences behavioral performance in the stampede assay. As proof of principle experiments we show parametric modulation of visual stimuli and startle stimuli in both wildtype and mutant flies for the type I family dopamine receptor Dop1R1 (DopR). DopR mutants are hyperactive and perform poorly in the stampede assay, suggesting a potential role in visual perception and/or arousal. The stampede assay creates an efficient platform for rapid screening of mutant animals or circuit manipulations for investigating attentional processes in Drosophila.