Dynamic structure of locomotor behavior in walking fruit flies

Alexander Y. Katsov, Limor Freifeld, Mark Horowitz, Seppe Kuehn, Thomas R. Clandinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The function of the brain is unlikely to be understood without an accurate description of its output, yet the nature of movement elements and their organization remains an open problem. Here, movement elements are identified from dynamics of walking in flies, using unbiased criteria. On one time scale, dynamics of walking are consistent over hundreds of milliseconds, allowing elementary features to be defined. Over longer periods, walking is well described by a stochastic process composed of these elementary features, and a generative model of this process reproduces individual behavior sequences accurately over seconds or longer. Within elementary features, velocities diverge, suggesting that dynamical stability of movement elements is a weak behavioral constraint. Rather, long-term instability can be limited by the finite memory between these elementary features. This structure suggests how complex dynamics may arise in biological systems from elements whose combination need not be tuned for dynamic stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere26410
StatePublished - Jul 25 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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