The mechanism of action selection is a widely shared fundamental process required by animals to interact with the environment and adapt to it. A key step in this process is the filtering of the "distracting" sensory inputs that may disturb action selection. Because it has been suggested that, in principle, action selection may also be processed by shared circuits in vertebrate and invertebrates, we wondered whether invertebrates show the ability to filter out "distracting" stimuli during a goal-directed action, as seen in vertebrates. In this experiment, action selection was studied in wild-type Drosophila melanogaster by investigating their reaction to the abrupt appearance of a visual distractor during an ongoing locomotor action directed to a visual target. We found that when the distractor was present. flies tended to shift the original trajectory toward it, thus acknowledging its presence, but they did not fully commit to it, suggesting that an inhibition process took place to continue the unfolding of the planned goal-directed action. To some extent flies appeared to take into account and represent motorically the distractor, but they did not engage in a complete change of their initial motor program in favor of the distractor. These results provide interesting insights into the selection-for-action mechanism, in a context requiring action-centered attention, that might have appeared rather early in the course of evolution.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Action selection and maintenance of a goal-directed action require animals to ignore irrelevant "distracting" stimuli that might elicit alternative motor programs. In this study we observed, in Drosophila melanogaster, a top-down mechanism inhibiting the response toward salient stimuli, to accomplish a goal-directed action. These data highlight, for the first time in an invertebrate organism, that the action-based attention shown by higher organisms, such as humans and nonhuman primates, might have an ancestral origin.

Action-based attention in Drosophila melanogaster

Frighetto, Giovanni;Zordan, Mauro A;Castiello, Umberto;Megighian, Aram
2019

Abstract

The mechanism of action selection is a widely shared fundamental process required by animals to interact with the environment and adapt to it. A key step in this process is the filtering of the "distracting" sensory inputs that may disturb action selection. Because it has been suggested that, in principle, action selection may also be processed by shared circuits in vertebrate and invertebrates, we wondered whether invertebrates show the ability to filter out "distracting" stimuli during a goal-directed action, as seen in vertebrates. In this experiment, action selection was studied in wild-type Drosophila melanogaster by investigating their reaction to the abrupt appearance of a visual distractor during an ongoing locomotor action directed to a visual target. We found that when the distractor was present. flies tended to shift the original trajectory toward it, thus acknowledging its presence, but they did not fully commit to it, suggesting that an inhibition process took place to continue the unfolding of the planned goal-directed action. To some extent flies appeared to take into account and represent motorically the distractor, but they did not engage in a complete change of their initial motor program in favor of the distractor. These results provide interesting insights into the selection-for-action mechanism, in a context requiring action-centered attention, that might have appeared rather early in the course of evolution.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Action selection and maintenance of a goal-directed action require animals to ignore irrelevant "distracting" stimuli that might elicit alternative motor programs. In this study we observed, in Drosophila melanogaster, a top-down mechanism inhibiting the response toward salient stimuli, to accomplish a goal-directed action. These data highlight, for the first time in an invertebrate organism, that the action-based attention shown by higher organisms, such as humans and nonhuman primates, might have an ancestral origin.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3299751
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